Skip to main content

Full text of "Symmes's theory of concentric spheres : demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open about the poles"

See other formats


4    M^R^    OMUHUIO^ 

-.^u.M  UBfiARV 


^,Y    OF    pirTSSllRO*" 


Jjarlington  jiVl.eiiiorial  JLiorary 





By  a  Citizen  of  the  United  States, 

"There  are  more  things  in  Heaven  and  EARTH,  Horatio, 

•'  Than  are  dreamt  of  in  your  philosophy !"  SHAKSPEARE. 

"  If  this  man  be  erroneous,  who  appears  to  be  so  sanguine  and  persevering  in  hii 
opinions,  what  withholds  us  but  our  sloh.  our  self-will,  and  distrust  in  the  right 
cause,  ihat  we  do  not  give  him  gentle  mee  irgs  and  a  gentle  dismission  ;  ihat  we 
debate  not  and  examii;e  the  matter  thoroughly,  with  liberal  and  frt-quent  audience; 
if  not  for  his  sake,  yet  for  our  own  ?  seeing  hat  no  man  who  hath  tasted  learning', 
but  will  confess  he  many  ways  of  profiting  by  those,  who,  not  content  with  stale 
receipts,  are  able  to  manage  and  set  forth  new  positions  to  the  world.  And  were 
they  but  as  tlie  dust  and  ci >  deis  of  our  feet,  so  long  as  in  that  notion,  they  may  yet 
serve  to  polish  and  brighten  the  armory  of  truth;  even  for  Ihatrespnct  they  are 
not  utterly  to  be  cast  away,"  MILTON. 





Be  it  remembered,  that  on  the  fourth  day  of  April, 
in  the  year  of  our  Lord  one  thousand  eight  hundred  and 
twenty  six  and  in  the  fiftieth  year  of  the  American  inde- 
pendence, Messrs.  Morgan,  Lodge  and  Fisher,  of  said 
District,  hath  deposited  in  this  office,  the  title  of  a  book, 
the  right  whereof  they  claim  as  proprietors,  in  the  words 
and  figures  following,  to  wit: 

"  Syrames's  theory  of  concentric  spheres;  demonstrating 
<•'  that  the  earth  is  hollow,  habitable  within,  and  widely 
"  open  about  the  poles:  by  a  citizen  of  the  United  States. 
"  There  are  more  things  in  Heaven  and  Earth  Horatio,  than 
"  are  dreamt  of  in  your  philosophy"  Shakespeare,  "  If 
"  this  man  be  erroneous  who  appears  to  be  so  sanguine  and 
"  persevering  in  his  opinions,  what  withholds  us  but  our 
"  sloth,  our  self  will,  and  distrust  in  the  right  cause,  that  we 
"  do  not  give  him  gentle  meetings  and  a  gentle  dismission; 
^'  that  we  debate  not  and  examine  the  matter  thoroughly, 
"■  with  liberal  and  frequent  audience:  if  not  for  his  sake, 
"  vet  for  our  own ;  seeing  that  no  man  who  has  tasted  learn- 
*•'  ing  but  will  confess  the  many  ways  of  profiting  by  those, 
"  who,  not  content  with  stale  receipts,  are  able  to  manage 
"  and  set  forth  new  positions  to  the  world.  And  were  they 
"  but  as  the  dust  and  cinders  of  our  feet,  so  long  as  in  that 
^' notion,  they  may  yet  serve  to  polish  and  brighten  the 
"armory  of  truth:  even  for  that  respect,  they  are  not 
"  utterly  to  be  cast  away."  Milton," 

In  conformity  to  the  act  of  Congress  of  the  United 
States,  entitled  "  An  act  for  the  encouragement  of  learning 
by  securing  the  copies  of  Maps,  Charts  and  Books  to  the 
proprietors  of  such  copies  during  the  times  therein  men- 
tioned;"' and  also  of  the  act  entitled  "An  act  supple- 
mentary to  an  act  entitled  an  act  for  the  encourage- 
ment of  learning  by  securing  the  copies  of  Maps, 
Charts  and  Books,  to  the  authors  and  proprietors  of  such 
copies,  during  the  times  therein  mentioned,  and  extending 
the  benefits  thereof  to  the  arts  of  designing,  engraving  and 
etching  historical  and  other  prints." 

Attest,        WILLIAM  KEY  BOND,  Clekk. 



^,    The  writer  of  the  following  work  is  said 

to  be  a  resident  of  the  Miami  country.     After 

reading    Captain    Symmes's    numbers,    and 

hearing  some   of  his  lectures,  he  wrote  the 

work,  it  seems,  in  the  first  place  without  the 

idea  of  publication  ;  but  afterwards  corrected 

and  enlarged  it,  and  left  it  with  a  friend  of 

Captain   Symmes  for  publication,  sometime 

>  Ui  the  autumn  of  the  year   1824.     The  nett 

}  profits  were  then,  as  now,  to  be  paid  to  Cap- 

■"  tain  Symmes,  towards  enabling  him  to  pro- 

;.mote  and  establish  his  principles:  but  owing 

*'  to  the  absence  of  the  author,  and  other  cir- 

tjumstances,  it  has  remained  unpublished  till 


2     The  author  has  chosen  to  present  the  work 

^anonymously;  and  has  obtained  the  promise 

'of  Captain  Symmes  to  forbear  criticising  it 

,  in    manuscript, — reserving    any  remarks    or 

-^corrections,  he  may  wish  to  make,  for  future 

publication.     Some   errors  of  the  press  will 

doubtless  be  discovered;  as    (in  the  absence 

.■rpi  both  Compiler  and  Theorist)  there  was 

'f^o proof-reader  at  hand,  sufficiently  versed  in 

othe  New  Theory,  at  all  times,  to  detect  them. 


Cincinnati,  April,  \ZZQ. 

sro  tilt  ^uuit* 

THE  following  little  treatise,  was  written 
in  the  autumn  of  the  year  eighteen  hundred 
and  twenty-four;  when  from  the  urgency  of 
my  common  avocation,  and  from  a  desire  to 
remain  incognito,  the  manuscript  was  placed 
in  the  hands  of  a  friend  of  Captain  Symmes 
for  publication.  As  it  was  not  my  intention 
to  seek  a  publisher,  or  make  advances  to 
faciliate  its  progress,  I  left  the  country  for  a 
considerable  length  of  time,  without  paying 
any  further  attention  to  the  subject.  Various 
difficulties  intervening,  delayed  the  publica- 
tion, until  subsequent  events,  have  destroyed 
my  chief  inducement ;  which  was,  that  these 
speculations,  compiled  from  a  cursory  ex- 
amination of  facts,  should  go  forth  as  a  har- 
binger, merely,  and  not  ''^follow  in  the  wake,^"* 
of  public  investigation. 


March,  182:6. 

THE  author  of  the  following  pages  does  not  write  be- 
cause he  is  a  learned  man;  he  is  conscious  of  the  reverse; 
and  that  his  merits  give  him  no  claim  to  that  appellation; 
neither  does  he  make  this  attempt  because  he  is  well  ac- 
quainted with  either  the  new,  or  the  old  theories  of  the 
earth;  but,  from  having  observed  that  the  Theory  of  Con- 
centric Spheres  has  been  before  the  world  for  six  or  seven 
years,  without  attracting  the  attention  of  the  scientific, 
except  in  _^a  very  few  instances; — few  besides  the  author 
himself  having  come  forward  to  advocate  its  correctness. 
The  newspaper  scribblers,  who  have  noticed  the  theory 
at  all,  have  almost  uniformly  appeared  to  consider  it  as 
a  fit  subject  on  which  to  indulge  their  wit,  the  sallies  of 
which,  clothed  in  all  the  humour  and  satire  their  fancies 
could  suggest,  have  in  some  degree  had  a  tendency  to 
throw  around  it  an  air  of  levity  very  unfavourable  to  se- 
rious investigation.  But  to  deal  in  sarcasm  is  not  always 
reasoning;  and  the  truth  is  not  to  be  ascertained  by  in 
dulging  in  ridicule. 

Considerations  of  this  nature,  first  induced  the  author  to 
devote  a  short  time  to  the  task  of  investigating  a  subject, 
to  which  he  had  paid  but  little  attention,  and  to  give  the 
several  papers,  published  by  Captain  Symmes,  a  cursory- 
examination;  in  the  course  of  which,  he  noted  such  of 
Symmes's  principles  and  proofs  as  attracted  his  atten- 
tion, as  they  occurred;  and  has  since  presumed  to  ar- 
range them  in  such  order  as  his  own  fancy  suggested; 
supposing  that,  as  they  had  struck  forcibly  on  his  mind, 
they  might  perhaps  attract  the  attention  of  some  other 
person,  whose  habits  of  thinking  may  be  similar  to  his 


own.  He  has  in  a  few  instances  inserted,  in  addition  to 
those  which  he  has  seen  advanced  by  Captain  Symmes, 
such  reasons  and  proofs  in  support  of  the  theory  as  oc- 
curred to  him  at  the  time.  However,  he  has  no  claim  to 
originality;  as  he  has  made  a  liberal  use  of  the  publica- 
tions of  Captain  Symmes,  as  well  as  the  remarks  made  on 
them  by  others,  which  came  in  his  way. 

The  reader  will  not  look  lor  a  complete  analysis  of  the 
theory  in  this  short  treatise;  it  is  not  intended  as  such  by 
the  author,  his  object  being  merely  to  attract  the  atten- 
tion of  the  learned,  who  are  in  the  habit  of  indulging  in 
more  abstruse  researches  into  the  operation  and  eflfect  of 
natural  causes;  and  should  it  be  found  to  merit  the  atten. 
tion  of  such,  it  is  hoped  their  enquiries  may  be  so  directed 
as  to  accelerate  the  march  of  scientific  improvement,  en- 
large the  field  of  philosophic  speculation,  and  open  to  the 
world  new  objects  of  ambition  and  enterprise. 

Should  he  therefore  be  fortunate  enough  to  make  any 
observations,  or  indulge  in  any  reflections,  in  the  course  of 
the  following  chapters,  that  may  merit  the  attention  of 
the  reader,  he  hopes  they  may  in  some  degree  atone 
for  the  many  defects  which  will  doubtless  be  discovered; 
with  a  sincere  wish,  that  gentlemen  of  literature  and  sci- 
ence, who  have  made  deeper  researches  than  he  pretends 
to,  will  have  the  goodness  to  correct  them. 

The  author  does  not  write  for  Fame:  as  anonymous 
compilers  (and  it  is  the  author^'s  wish  to  be  considered  in 
no  other  light)  can  never  expect  their  true  names  to  be 
inscribed  on  her  records:  neither  do  pecuniary  consider- 
ations influence  him,  as  he  expects  to  reap  no  profit  from 
the  publication. 

Should  it  attract  public  curiosity  to  such  a  degree,  as  to 
induce  the  sale  of  more  copies  than  will  be  sufficient  to 
meet  the  expense  of  printing,  it  is  the  author's  desire,  and 


he  does  hereby  direct,  and  fully  authorize  the  publishers, 
to  pay  over  the  nett  profits  to  Captain  Symmes,  for  the 
purpose  of  enabling  him  further  to  prosecute  his  studies; 
and  to  aid  him  in  the  accomplishment  of  his  designs. 

Whether  Captain  Symmes  has  hit  upon  an  important 
truth  in  the  economy  of  nature,  as  respects  the  organiza- 
tion of  matter,  it  is  not  for  the  author  to  determine;  to  the 
more  scientific  we  must  look  for  a  solution  of  the  problem; 
to  them  it  is  submitted.  The  following  pages  are  pre- 
sented with  no  other  intention,  than  as  a  hint  to  elicit  the 
attention  of  others,  who  are  qualified  to  investigate,  and 
improve  the  subject.  Should  they,  on  examination,  con- 
sider the  matter  worthy  of  their  investigation,  it  will 
doubtless  receive  the  attention  which  its  importance  so 
greatly  demands.  If  it  be  erroneous,  it  is  hoped  they 
will  detect,  and  expose  its  fallacy  to  the  world;  giving  at 
the  same  time  rational  and  satisfactory  explanations  of  the 
many  facts,  and  appearances  which  Captain  Symmes  ad. 
duces  as  proofs  of  his  positions. 

August,  A.  D.  1824. 


to  you  I  would  apologize  for  the  liberties  I  have 
taken  with  your  Theory,  and  your  publications  in  relation 
to  it,  which  have  made  their  appearance  in  the  newspa- 
pers of  the  day.  When  I  commenced  this  compilation, 
in  support  of  your  doctrine  of  Concentric  Spheres,  [  had 
no  view  to  its  publication.  1  had  collected  all  the  papers 
on  the  subject,  upon  which  I  could  lay  my  hands,  with 
the  intention  of  investigating  the  Theory  for  my  own  sat- 
isfaction: but  the  scattered  and  irregular  ordpr  in  which 
I  found  them,  and  in  which  they  must  necessarily  appear 
in  detached  Newspaper  essays,  published  at  different  and 
distant  times,  induced  me  to  attempt  araethodical  airange- 
ment,  for  the  purpose  of  facilitating  my  own  enquiries. 
When  I  had  completed  this,  the  same  reasons,  added  to 
the  consideration,  that  you  have  not  only  invited,  but  so- 
licited the  investigation  of  your  theory,  declaring  it  "  as 
free  as  air,''  to  every  person,  to  make  such  use  of  it  as  he 
may  think  proper,  influenced  me  to  conclude  on  publishing 
the  result  of  my  investigations.  Having  come  to  this  de- 
termination, i  have  added  a  Preface,  an  Introductory  chap- 
ter, and  a  few  things  in  conclusion,  to  make  it  look  more 
like  a  Book. 

As  I  have  not  seen  all  your  publications  in  the  newspa- 
pers, if  I  have  not  fully  understood,  or  if  I  have  misrep- 


resented  yoi>r  theory  in  any  particular,  I  assure  you  it  has 
been  done  unintentionally — it  has  arisen  entirely  from  mv 
want  of  adequate  information  j  and  1  hope  you  will,  in  the 
spirit  of  candour  9nd  good  nature,  pardon  and  correct  any 
errors  into  which  I  may  have  fallen.  Had  an  opportunity 
offered,  and  could  I  have  done  it  with  propriety,  1  should 
certainly  have  submitted  the  manuscript  to  your  revis- 
ion, previous  to  its  publication.  However,  as  this  sketch 
is  only  intended  to  elicit  further  investigation,  and  can  only 
live  until  a  formal  and  systematic  treatise  shall  appear 
from  your  pen,  I  hope  you  will  permit  it  to  pass  as  the 
Pioneer  to  a  more  complete  demonstration  of  your  Theory 
of  Concentric  Spheres, 

I  AM  Sir, 
One  of  the  believers  in  that  Theory,-^ 




Containing  an  introductory  glance  at  some  of  the  differ- 
ent Theories  and  Opinions  which  have  been  embraced 
respecting  the  formation  of  the  Earth,  and  the  reception 
which  those  Theories  met  with  from  the  world  when  first 
promulgated . 


Symmes's  Theory;  comprehending  his  description  of 
the  form  of  the  earth,  and  of  the  other  orbs  in  the  Uni- 
verse; his  principles  of  gravity,  and  the  points  wherein 
he  differs  from  the  old  or  generally  received  theories. 


Symmes's  Theory  supported  by  arguments  drawn  from 
the  principles  inherent  in  matter,  and  the  consequences 
resulting  from  motion ;  tending  to  show  that,  from  neces- 
sity, matter  must  form  itself  into  concentric  circles  or 
spheres,  such  as  Symmes  describes  the  earth  to  be  com- 
posed ol. 


Arguments  in  support  of  Symmes's  Theory,  drawn  from 
Celestial  appearances. 


The  Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres,  supported  by  ar- 
guments drawn  from  Terrestrial  facts;  such  as  the  mi- 
gratioD  of  animals  to  and  from  the  arctic  regions,  and 


from  refraction,  and  the  variation  of  the  compass,  observed 
in  high  northern  latitudes. 


Facts  tending  to  illustrate  and  prove  the  existence  of  a 
mid  plane  spaoe,  situated  between  the  concave  and  convex 
surfaces  of  the  sphere. 


Several  objections,  made  to  the  Theory  of  Concentric 
Spheres,  answered,  particularly  the  one  that  it  contra- 
venes religious  opinions;  demonstrating  that  the  earth,  and 
the  other  orbs  of  the  universe,  are  formed  on  the  best  pos. 
sible  plan  for  the  maintenance  and  support  of  organic  life. 

General  observations  on  the  Theory  of  Concentric 
Spheres,  with  a  few  suggestions  to  the  Congress  of  the 
United  States,  to  authorize  and  fit  out  an  Expedition  for 
the  discovery  of  the  In'erior  Pegions;  or,  at  least,  to  ex- 
plore the  northern  parts  of  the  continent  of  America. 


A  few  brief  suggestions,  relative  to  the  description,  ton- 
nage, and  number  of  vessels,  necessarj  to  be  equipped  for 
a  voyage  of  discovery  to  the  interior  regions  of  the  earth; 
the  number  of  men  necessary  to  be  employed  on  board, 
articles  necessary  for  the  outfit,  and  the  probable  expense 
attending  the  same ;  also,  as  to  the  route  most  proper  to  be 
pursued  to  accomplish  the  object  of  the  expedition, 


A  short  Biographical  sketch  of  Captain  Symmes;  with 
some  observations  on  the  ti  eatment  which  he  has  met  with 
in  the  advancement  of  his  theory. 





Containing  an  introductory  glance  at  some  of  the  different 
Theories  and  Opinions  -jL^hich  have  been  advanced  respecting 
ike  formation  of  the  Earth,  and  the  reception  which  those 
Theories  met  tsoithfrom  the  world  when  frst  promulgated. 

IT  often  happens,  that  those  who  have 
been  early  taught  to  believe  a  certain  set  of 
principles  and  doctrines  as  true,  whether  in 
philosophy,  religion,  or  politics,  adhere  to 
them  with  the  utmost  pertinacity  during  the 
remainder  of  their  lives.  Any  new  theory, 
or  principle,  is  resisted  with  peculiar  energy; 
and,  however  inconsistent  or  untrue  their 
favorite  systems  may  be,  they  are  disposed 
to  make  principles  and  facts  bend  to  themj 
and  would  sooner  call  in  question  the  gene- 
ral and  immutable  laws  of  nature,  than  the 
correctness  of  their  own  opinions.  Perhaps 
this  pertinacious  adherence  to  prevalent  and 


received  opinions  has  retarded  the  progress 
of  philosophic  improvement  more  than  the 
want  of  bold,  original,  and  enquiring  genius. 
In  former  times  those  who  cultivated  sci- 
ence,or  rather  those  who  were  called  learned, 
generally  based  their  philosophy  on  the  doc- 
trines of  Aristotle;  which,  as  they  had  been 
taught  to  reverence  them  from  their  infancy, 
had  become  almost  interwoven  with  their 
constitutions.  Hence,  though  time  has  un- 
folded to  us  their  errors,  during  several  cen- 
turies, suspicion  never  hinted  their  fallibility. 
The  doctrine  of  the  revolutions  of  the  earth, 
and  other  planets;  of  gravitation,  magnetism, 
and  other  properties  now  known  to  belong  to 
matter;  have  each  in  their  turn  met  with  a 
strong  opposition  from  the  most  learned  men 
living  at  the  time  of  their  discovery.  But, 
notwithstanding  this  opposition,  in  all  ages, 
a  few  bold,  enquiring  minds  have  had  the 
firmness  to  dissent  from  the  established  doc- 
trines of  the  schoolmen,  and  to  lay  the  foun- 
dation of  new  systems,  the  correctness  of 
which  subsequent  improvements  in  science 
have  more  or  less  demonstrated  to  the  world. 
Although  nearly  six  thousand  years  have 
elapsed  since  man  has  been  placed  upon  the 
earth,  he  yet  knows  but  little  of  its  formation. 


Notwithstanding  all  our  enterprise,  all  our 
boasted  acquirements,  and  discoveries,  its 
true  form  yet  remains  uncertain  land  although 
admitted  that  it  is  not  quite  eight  thousand 
miles  in  diameter,  we  still  have  never  ex- 
plored its  extent.  A  space  of  nearly  forty 
degrees  of  latitude  remains  as  little  known  to 
us,  as  if  it  were  a  part  of  the  surface  of  Sat- 
urn, or  an  orb  revolving  round  a  star  of  the 
eighth  magnitude.  We  know  nothing  of  the 
inhabitants  of  those  regions,  or  what  kind  of 
animate  beings  exist  in  them. 

It  was  a  prevailing  opinion  among  the  an- 
cients, the  correctness  of  which  they  for  ages 
never  called  in  question,  that  the  temperate 
zones  of  our  globe  were  alone  habitable.— 
The  torrid  zone  they  imagined  was  composed 
of  nothing  but  sandy  deserts,  scorched  up  by 
the  vertical  and  insupportable  beams  of  a 
burning  sun.  The  frigid  zones,  they  believed 
were  begirt  with  eternal  snows,  and  "thick 
ribbed  ice,"  which  rendered  them  inaccessible 
to  man,  and  incapable  of  supporting  animal 
or  vegetable  life.  Hence  none  ventured  to 
approach  them. 

Subsequent  discoveries  have,  however, 
taught  us  the  errors  of  the  ancients.  We 
now  know  that, the  torrid  zone  teems  with 


organic  life;  and  possesses,  in  many  parts,  a 
population  more  dense  than  the  temperate, 
and  is  equally  well  adapted  to  its  support: 
nay,  we  even  find  the  temperature  of  that 
region  to  be  such  that  it  contains  mountains 
capped  with  perpetual  snows,  which  the 
beams  of  a  July  sun  do  not  dissolve.  It  has 
also  been  ascertained  that  the  frigid  zones 
are  partially  inhabited:  but  it  seems  that  a 
certain  timid  dread,  perhaps  in  part  attributa- 
ble to  the  prejudices  imbibed  from  our  ances- 
tors, has  prevented  our  exploring  the  extent  of 
those  regions.  However,  as  far  as  civilized 
man  has  yet  ventured  to  penetrate  towards 
the  poles,  we  find  that  plants  growy  flowers 
bloom,  and  human  beings  make  a  permanent 
residence ;  nay,  even  the  untutored  savages 
who  reside  there  tell  us  that  other  human 
beings  reside  yet  further  to  the  north;  and 
animals  are  known  to  migrate  in  that  direc- 
tion. Reasoning  then  from  analogy,  and  from 
what  we  know,  we  have  no  ground  to  con- 
clude that  such  a  vast  extent  of  surface  has 
been  created  by  an  all-wise  Providence  for 
no  other  purpose,  than  to  be  eternally  clothed 
with  mountains  of  ice.  Such  a  conclusion 
comports  not  with  the  general  economy  we 
do  know  to  exist  throughout  Jiis  works. 


We  are  constrained  to  acknowledge,  not- 
withstanding our  improvements  in  science, 
that,  comparatively,  we  know  but  little  of  the 
economy  of  nature.  Within  a  few  years  past, 
almost  an  entire  revolution  has  taken  place 
in  the  world  respecting  the  philosophy  of  light 
and  heat — a  change  which  affects  the  theory 
both  of  their  nature,  and  of  their  causes: — 
They  are  now  believed  to  be  two  distinct 
things,  and  that  the  sun  communicates  nei- 
ther, but  merely  gives  activity,  in  some  man- 
ner not  yet  known,  to  the  principles,  or  matter, 
of  light  and  heat  with  which  our  elements 
abound.  If  this  be  the  case,  as  I  believe  is 
now  admitted  by  the  learned  world,  we  can- 
not undertake  to  say,  that  the  intensity  or  the 
absence  of  either,  is  necessarily  dependant 
alone  on  the  altitude  of  the  sun,  under  any 
particular  latitude ;  or  on  our  nearness  to,  or 
remoteness  from,  the  centre  of  the  system: — 
For  aught  we  know,  both  may  be  connected 
with  arrangements  that  require  but  few  of 
the  sun's  rays  to  make  them  answer  the  pur- 
poses of  organic  life.  For  aught  we  can  tell, 
the  planet  Georgium  Sidus,  which  rolls  eigh- 
teen hundred  millions  of  miles  distant  from 
the  orb  of  day,  may,  nevertheless,  be  favoured 
with  as  brilliant  light,  and  as  genial  warmth 


as  our  little  globe;  and  for  aught  we  know 
the  interior  of  this  planet,  in  the  concavity  of 
the  spheres,  under  the  equator,  may  enjoy  the 
same  light  and  heat  that  fructify  and  bless 
the  equatorial  climes  on  the  convex  surface. 
During  a  period  of  several  thousand  years 
the  ancients  were  of  opinion  that  the  earth 
was  a  perfect  plane,  at  rest,  and  supported 
below  by  an  unknown  something;  that  it  was 
bounded  on  all  sides  by  an  impassable  bar- 
rier, and  covered  with  the  blue  canopy  of 
heaven,  in  which  the  sun,  moon,  and  stars 
performed  their  diurnal  revolutions  for  the 
sole  use  and  service  of  a  few  frail  mortals. 
They  believed  that  the  sun,  every  morn- 
ing rose  out  of  the  Eastern  sea ;  and  in  the  eve- 
ning plunged  into  the  Western  ocean;  that 
the  stars  were  lighted  up  in  the  evening  by 
some  kind  deity,  and  extinguished  before  the 
appearance  of  the  sun.  For  ages  none  douM- 
ed  the  correctness  of  such  a  theory.  At 
length,  however,  from  an  attentive  examina- 
tion of  the  regular  appearances  and  revolu- 
tions of  the  heavenly  bodies,  some  of  the 
Babylonians  adopted  the  opinion  that  the 
earth  was  spherical;  revolving  at  regular 
periods  round  the  sun,  as  the  centre  of  the 
universe.     In   this   they  were  followed    by 


Pythagoras  and  others.  But  those  efforts  of 
genius,  for  the  most  part,  met  no  other  reward 
than  the  execrations  of  the  exasperated  mul- 
titude. Such  innovations  were  deemed  an 
impious  crime  against  the  gods,  and  could 
only  be  atoned  for  by  the  sacrifice  of  their 
lives.  In  those  times  the  people  of  every 
nation,  like  the  untutored  Indian  of  our  North 
Western  wilderness  at  this  day,  considered 
their  own  country  to  be  situated  in  the  centre 
of  the  world,  and  they,  the  most  favoured 
people.  Even  in  later  times,  when  the  sys- 
tem of  the  Babylonians,  and  that  of  Pythago- 
ras, were  revived  by  Copernicus ;  and,  when 
new  discoveries  respecting  the  form  and 
revolutions  of  the  earth,  and  other  parts  of 
the  universe,  were  made  by  Galileo,  not  more 
than  two  hundred  years  since,  we  find  an 
ignorant  and  bigoted  world  alarmed  at  such 
opinions.  We  find  Galileo,  that  incompara- 
ble philosopher,  cited  before  the  court  of 
Inquisition,  accused  of  heresy,  and  thrown 
into  prison.  The  charge  of  heresy  against 
him  was  supported  by  alleging  that  he  main- 
tained the  two  following  positions,  viz. 

1.  "  That  the  sun  is  the  centre  of  the  world, 
and  immoveable  by  a  local  motion ;"  and 


2.  "  That  the  earth  is  not  the  centre  of  the 
world,  nor  immoveable,  but  that  it  moves 
with  a  diurnal  motion." 

These  positions  he  was  not  permitted  to 
maintain  or  defend,  but  was  ordered  to  re- 
nounce them;  and  was  prohibited  from  vindi- 
cating them  either  in  conversation  or  writing. 
However  strange  and  impious  these  doctrines 
appeared  at  that  time,  subsequent  ages  have 
confirmed  their  correctness. 

When  Columbus  advanced  the  theory  of  a 
western  continent,  he  was  ridiculed,  persecu- 
ted, and  contemned,  by  nearly  all  the  literati 
of  Europe.  It  was  an  idea  which  had  never 
before  entered  their  minds.  But,  notwith- 
standing all  their  opposition  and  ridicule,  the 
correctness  of  his  "  visionary  theory,"  as  they 
were  pleased  to  call  it,  was  demonstrated  by 
the  actual  discovery  of  this  vast  continent, 
which  is  now  sustaining  millions  of  the  very 
happiest  of  the  human  race. 

Many  of  the  important  discoveries  of  the 
immortal  Newton,  at  the  time  they  were  first 
promulgated  to  the  world,  were  denounced  as 
the  splendid  visions  of  a  madman ;  but,  subse- 
quent ages  have  done  him  justice. 

Much  as  we  may  feel  ourselves  elated  on 
account  of  the  new  lights  which  have  since 


been  shed  upon  us,  by  the  further  progress 
and  developement  of  science;  yet,  when  I 
reflect  on  the  unkind  treatment  which  Cap- 
tain Symmes  and  his  new  theory  have  re- 
ceived in  our  own  day,  I  cannot  help  fearing 
that  we  are  still,  in  some  degree,  under  the 
influence  of  the  same  feeling^and  prejudices 
which  brought  the  earlier  philosophers  to  the 
torture,  and  the  prison.  This  theory  differs 
much  less  from  the  one  now  commonly  re- 
ceived, than  the  doctrines  of  those  philoso- 
phers differed  from  the  prejudices  of  the  mul- 
titude, in  an  age  when  every  one  believed 
the  earth  to  be  as  flat  as  a  table ;  and,  conse- 
quently, it  is  but  a  small  innovation  in  com- 
parison to  what  the  theory  of  Pythagoras  and 
Copernicus  must  have  appeared  to  be  in  their 
day ;  yet  Captain  Symmes  has  been  constant- 
ly, and  almost  every  where,  represented  as  a 
visionary  and  dangerous  innovator,  and  his 
alleged  discovery  ridiculed  as  the  silly  dream 
of  a  deranged  imagination. 

But  let  us  not  turn  our  backs  and  give  a 
deaf  ear  to  him,  or  to  the  discoveries  of  any 
other  man,  merely  because  they  are  new? 
and  in  contravention  of  our  previously  re- 
ceived impressions.  True  it  is^  novelty  is 
frequently  dangerous  and  hurtful:  but  on  the 


Other  hand,  it  is  often  necessary  and  useful. 
Without  it  we  should  still  remain  destitute  of 
many  of  the  greatest  advantages  we  enjoy. 
Without  the  advancement  of  new  principles, 
and  speculative  ideas,  neither  ourselves,  nor 
any  other  people,  could  ever  have  emerged 
from  a  state  of  savage  barbarity.  Without 
it,  what  purpose  could  our  reason  serve, 
which,  under  proper  regulations,  and  by  a 
gradual  progress,  is  capable  of  contributing 
so  largely  to  the  general  good  of  society? 

Were  it  my  opinion  that  Symmes's  Theory 
is  one  of  the  wildest  and  most  ridiculous  that 
ever  entered  into  the  brain  of  man,  1  would 
not  refuse  to  hear  him ;  nor  by  malevolent  or 
satirical  disapprobation,  attempt  to  discour- 
age him,  before  I  had  examined  aud  reflected 
upon  itc  By  the  examination  of  many  specu- 
lative subjects,  abounding  with  falsehood, 
we  are  frequently  enabled  to  treasure  up  some 
truths.  Some  of  the  first  and  most  important 
discoveries  in  chemistry,  owe  their  origin  to 
the  midnight  vigils  of  the  alchymists,  who 
vainly  sought  for  the  philosopher's  stone:  and 
many  valuable  combinations  in  the  science 
of  mechanics  have  been  discovered  by  those 
who  wasted  years  in  as  vain  a  pursuit,  after 
a  perpetual  motion. 


I  believe  there  are  but  few  theories,  which 
do  not  contain  much  that  is  profitable.  The 
man  who  has  the  ingenuity  to  advance  new 
ones,  will  be  likely,  in  the  course  of  reason- 
ing necessary  to  support  them,  to  say  some- 
thing that  is  useful  to  be  known.  In  his 
very  reveries  and  wanderings,  he  will  often 
point  out  land-marks,  which  may  be  useful 
to  the  future  traveller.  Whether  then  is  it 
belter  to  crouch  under  the  tyranny  of  preju- 
dice, or  employ  our  thoughts  and  reasoning 
powers  in  the  search  of  truth,  though  at  the 
risk  of  deceiving  ourselves,  as  our  predeces- 
sors have  done?  Had  it  not  been  for  a  pru- 
dent boldness  in  advancing  and  defending 
new  doctrines,  the  human  mind  must  have 
remained  to  this  day,  the  sport  of  all  the 
chimeras  of  the  ancients. 

The  exact  shape  and  formation  of  the 
earth  are  admitted  not  to  be  well  understood. 
The  laws  of  gravity,  and  the  admeasure- 
ments which  have  been  made  in  different 
places  on  the  same  meridian,  have  demon- 
strated to  us,  that  the  greatest  mathemati- 
cians have  mistaken  its  real  figurCp  Various 
theories  have  at  different  times  been  pub- 
lished and  refuted,  and  others  substituted  in 
their  stead.    Yet  still  a  shade  of  darkness 


and  mystery  appears  to  hang  over  the  sub- 
ject; for  many  principles,  attractions,  and 
apparent  variations  from  the  established  laws 
believed  to  exist  in  the  economy  of  nature, 
have  been  discovered,  particularly  in  the 
polar  regions,  which  remain  unexplained  and 
unaccounted  for.  Let  us,  therefore,  examine 
and  investigate  any  theory  which  proposes 
to  explain  them.  Let  us  not  be  so  tenacious 
of  our  own  opinions,  and  hereditary  prejudi- 
ces, as  to  stop  at  the  very  point  where  every 
thing  invites  us  to  proceed.  Let  us  rather 
push  our  researches  after  knowledge  to  the 
utmost,  and  exercise  our  reason,  and  every 
means  in  our  ptower  that  may  tend  to  the 
advancement  of  science  and  knowledge.  In 
the  pursuit,  let  us  not  be  retarded  by  the  cry 
of  prejudice,  or  the  sarcastic  whispers  of  the 
narrow  minded,  and  selfish. 

Let  us,  therefore  give  Captain  Syrames  a 
"gentle  meeting,"  and  a  candid  hearing,  in 
the  following  short  chapters;  ascertain  what 
his  theory  is,  and  on  what  principles  he  sup- 
ports it ;  and  then  adopt  or  reject  it,  as  our 
reason  may  dictate. 



Symmes''s  Theory;  comprehending  his  description  of  the  form 
of  the  earth,  and  of  the  other  orbs  in  the  Universe;  his 
principles  of  gravity,  and  the  points  ischerein  he  differs 
from  the  old  or  generally  received  theories, 

ACCORDING  to  Symmes's  Theory,  the 
earth,  as  well  as  all  the  celestial  orbicular 
bodies  existing  in  the  universe,  visible  and 
invisible,  which  partake  in  any  degree  of  a 
planetary  nature,  from  the  greatest  to  the 
smallest,  from  the  sun,  down  to  the  most  mi- 
nute blazing  meteor  or  falling  star,  are  all 
constituted  in  a  greater  or  less  degree,  of  a 
collection  of  spheres,  more  or  less  solid,  con- 
centric with  each  other,  and  more  or  less  open 
at  their  poles;  each  sphere  being  separated 
from  its  adjoining  compeers  by  space  replete 
with  aerial  fluids;  that  every  portion  of 
infinite  space,  except  what  is  occupied  by 
spheres,  is  filled  with  an  aerial  elastic  fluid, 
more  subtile  than  common  atmospheric  air; 
and  constituted  of  innumerable  small  concen- 
tric spheres,  too  minute  to  be  visible  to  the 
organ  of  sight  assisted  by  the  most  perfect 
microscope,  and  so  elastic  that  they  continu- 
ally press  on  each  other,  and  change  their 


relative  situations  as  often  as  the  position  of 
any  piece  of  matter  in  space  may  change  its 
position:  thus  causing  a  universal  pressure, 
which  is  weakened  by  the  intervention  of  oth- 
er bodies  in  proportion  to  the  subtended  an- 
gle of  distance  and  dimension;  necessarily 
causing  the  body  to  move  towards  the  points 
of  decreased  pressure. 

It  is  a  sound  principle  of  philosophy,  that 
the  particles  of  the  common  air  of  our  atmos- 
phere are  of  a  repellant  quality,  and  mutual- 
ly repulse  each  other.     The  whole  system  of 
pneumatics  goes  to  prove  that  air  presses 
equally  in  all   directions.     Not  a  single   ex- 
periment in  this  branch  of  natural  science 
can  be  performed  that  does  not  depend  on 
such  a  property.     This  being  the  case,  if  the 
boundless  extent  of  the  universe,  beyond  the 
limits  of  our  atmosphere,  be  an  entire  vacu- 
um, why  should  the  atmosphere  be  retained 
in  its  present  circumscribed  form,  and  not  ex- 
pand, by  virtue  of  its  repellant  quality,  far 
beyond  its  known  height?     To  prevent  this, 
,  Symmes  believes  universal  space  to  be  filled 
#with  an  elastic  fluid,  inconceivably  rare,  and 
uniformly   distributed   throughout;    differing 
from  common  air,  and  from  the  elastic  fluids 
(which  also  are  known  to  be  repellant)  ex- 


isting  in  our  atmosphere.  This  tendency  is 
what  Symmes  believes  should  be  understood 
by  the  term  gravity;  the  laws  of  action  gov- 
erning which  he  holds  to  be  true,  as  defined 
by  Newton:  and  he  moreover  holds  that  the 
application  of  the  laws  of  gravity,  as  laid 
down  by  Newton,  leads  a  reasoning  mind  to 
the  belief  of  concentric  spheres,  with  open 
poles,  as  all  planetary  bodies  are  in  his  opin- 
ion formed. 

In  regard  to  the  effects  of  gravity,  he  pre- 
tends not  to  differ  from  the  generally  received 
opinion  of  the  age ;  but  the  application  of  them, 
as  to  the  inner  parts  of  insulated  bodies,  has 
enabled  him  to  improve  in  a  knowledge  of  the 
formation  of  planets;  and  finally  led  him  to 
form  a  correct  idea  of  what  constitutes  gravity. 

The  author  of  the  new  theory  entertains  a 
belief  that  the  principles  of  planetary  orbicu- 
lar forms,  developed  by  him,  extend  as  well 
to  the  molecules  of  the  most  subtile  fluids,  as 
to  the  innumerable  stars  or  suns  of  the  uni- 
verse, and  all  their  planetary  trains:  he  con- 
tends that  though  he  may  not  have  discover- 
ed any  new  principles  in  physics,  yet  that  he 
has  made  interesting  advances  in  a  knowl- 
edge of  the  application  of  what  was  hereto- 
fore known. 


According  to  him,  the  planet  which  has 
been  designated  the  Earth,  is  composed  of  at 
least  five  hollow  concentric  spheres,  with 
spaces  between  each,  an  atmosphere  sur- 
rounding each ;  and  habitable  as  well  upon 
the  concave  as  the  convex  surface.  Each  of 
these  spheres  are  widely  open  at  their  poles. 
The  north  polar  opening  of  the  sphere  we  in- 
habit, is  believed  to  be  about  four  thousand 
miles  in  diameter,  and  the  southern  above 
six  thousand.*  The  planes  of  these  polar 
openings  are  inclined  to  the  plane  of  the  eclip- 
tic at  an  angle  of  about  twenty  degrees;  so 
that  the  real  axis  of  the  earth,  being  perpen- 
dicular to  the  plane  of  the  equator,  will  form 
an  angle  of  twelve  degrees  with  a  line  passing 
through  the  sphere  at  right  angles  with  the 
plane  of  the  polar  openings;  consequently 
the  verg-e  of  the  polar  openings  must  approach 
several  degrees  nearer  to  the  equator  on  one 
side  than  on  the  other.  The  highest  north 
point,  or  where  the  distance  is  greatest  from 
the  equator  to  the  verge  of  the  opening  in  the 
northern  hemisphere,  will  be  found  either  in 
the  northern  sea,  near  the  coast  of  Lapland, 
on  a  meridian  passing  through  Spitsbergen,  in 
about  latitude  sixty-eight  degrees,  or  some- 
what more  eastwardly  in  Lapland;  and  the 

*  National  Intelligencer  pf  June  10th,  1824. 


verge  would  become  apparent,  to  the  naviga- 
tor proceeding  north,  in  about  latitude  ninety- 

The  lowermost  point,  or  the  place  where 
the  distance  is  least  from  the  equator  to  the 
verge  of  the  northern  polar  opening,  will  be 
found  in  the  Pacific  ocean,  about  latitude  fifty 
degrees,  near  the  north-west  coast  of  America, 
on  or  near  a  meridian  running  through  the 
mouth  of  Cook's  river,  being  in  about  one 
hundred  and  sixty  degrees  west  longitude, 
the  real  verge  being  in  about  latitude  fifty 
degrees  and  becoming  apparent  to  a  person 
travelling  northward  at  right  angles  with  the 
magnetic  equator,  at  the  distance  of  about 
twelve  hundred  miles  further.  The  verge 
varies  progressively  from  the  lowest  to  the 
highest  point,  crossing  the  north-west  coast 
of  America  between  latitude  fifty-two  and  fif- 
ty-four, thence  across  the  continent  of  North 
America,  passing  through  Hudson's  Bay  and 
Greenland,  near  cape  Farewell;  thence  by 
mount  Hecla  to  the  highest  point;  thence 
tending  gradually  more  to  the  south,  across 
the  northern  parts  of  Asia,  at  or  near  the  vol- 
canoes of  Kamtschatka,  and  along  the  extin- 
guished volcanoes  of  the  'Fox  Islands,  to  the 
lowermost  point  again,  near  the  northwest 



In  the  southern   hemisphere,   the  highest 
point,  or  place  where  the  distance  is  greatest  j 
from  the  equator  to  the  verge  of  the  polar  \ 
opening,  will  be  found  in  the  southern  Pacific  ^ 
ocean,  in   about   latitude    forty-six   degrees 
south,  and  perhaps  about  longitude  one  hun-  . 
dred  and  thirty  degrees  west;  and  the  lower- 
most  point,  or  place  where  the  distance  is 
least  from  the  equator  to  the  verge  of  the 
opening,  will  be  found  on  a  meridian  south  or 
south-east  of  the    island  of  Madagascar,  in 
about  latitude  thirty-four  degrees  south,  and 
longitude  about  fifty   degrees  east;    thence 
passing  near  the  cape  of  Good  Hope,  across 
the  Atlantic  ocean,  and  southern  part  of  the   t 
continent  of  America,  through  a  chain  of  ac- 
tive volcanoes,  to  the  highest  point;  thence   j 
bearing  regularly  toward   the  lowest  point, 
passing   between  the  two  islands  of  New- 
Zaalaji'd,  or  across  the  most  southerly  one, 
and  the  northernmost  part  of  Van  Dieman's 
land,  to  the  lowest  point,  which  is  south  or 
south-east    of   Madagascar;    the    apparent 
verge  being  several   hundred  miles   beyond 
the  real  verge.*     Consequently,  according  to 

*  A  tolerably  correct  representation  of  the  sphere  might 
be  made  by  taking  a  hollow  terrestrial  globe,  such  as  are 
used  in  «olleges5  and  insert  a  saw  at  north  latitude  sixty- 


this  formation  of  the  sphere,  the  degrees  of 
latitude,  on  different  meridians,  will  vary- 
according  to  their  distance  from  the  polar 
openings;  and  the  magnetical  equator,  which 
encircles  the  sphere,  parallel  to  the  plane  of 
the  polar  openings,  would  cut  the  real  etjua- 
tor  at  an  angle  of  twelve  degrees.  A  person 
standing  on  the  highest  part  of  the  apparent 
verge  would  appear  to  be  under  the  polar 
star,  or  nearly  so,  and  at  the  ninetieth  degree 
of  latitude.  The  meridians  all  converge 
to  the  highest  point  of  the  verge,  or  the 
ninetieth  degree;  consequently,  in  tracing  a 
meridian  of  longitude,  you  would  pursue  a 
direction  at  right  angles  to  the  equator,  until 
you  arrived  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  real 

eight  degrees  in  Lapland,  sawing  obliquely  through,  so 
aa  to  come  out  at  latitude  fifty  degrees  in  the  Pacific 
ocean.  The  aperture  thus  produced,  will  show  the  gene- 
ral dimensions  and  slope  of  the  north  polar  opening.  And 
in  the  southern  hemisphere,  commencing  with  the  saw 
at  south  latitude  thirty  four  degrees,  in  longitude  between 
fifty  and  fifty-five  degrees  east,  in  the  Indian  ocean,  and 
sawing  obliquely  through,  in  the  same  manner,  so  as  to 
come  out  at  south  latitude  forty-six  degrees,  and  longitude 
one  hundred  and  thirty  degrees  west,  in  the  South  Pacific 
ocean,  you  will  represent  the  appearance  of  the  south 
polar  opening;  and  the  whole  will  exhibit  a  general  re- 
presentation of  the  sphere,  according  to  the  new  theory. 


verge  of  the  polar  opening,  when  the  meri- 
dians would  change  their  direction  and  turn 
along  between  the  real  and  apparent  verges 
towards  the  highest  point,  until  they  all  ter- 
minated at  the  ninetieth  degree  of  latitude ; 
this  being  the  direction  a  person  would  travel 
in  order  to  have  his  back  to  the  sun  always 
at  12  o'clock,  the  time  of  his  greatest  alti- 
tude. Although  the  particular  location  of 
the  places  where  the  verges  of  the  polar 
openings  are  believed  to  exist,  may  not  have 
been  ascertained  with  absolute  certainty,  yet 
they  are  believed  to  be  nearly  correct;  their 
localities  having  been  ascertained  from  ap- 
pearances that  exist  in  those  regions;  such 
as  a  belt  or  zone  surrounding  the  globe 
where  trees  and  other  vegetation  (except 
moss)  do  not  grow;  the  tides  of  the  ocean 
flowing  in  different  directions,  and  appearing 
to  meet;  the  existence  of  volcanoes;  the 
^^  ground  swells''^  in  the  sea  being  more  fre- 
quent; the  Aurora  Borealis  appearing  to  the 
southward ;  and  various  other  phenomena 
existing  in  and  about  the  same  regions,  mark 
the  relative  position  of  the  real  verges. 

The  heat  and  cold  of  the  different  climates 
are  governed  by  their  distance  from  the  verge 
of  the  polar  opening,  and  do  not  depend  on 


their  nearness  to  or  remoteness  from  the 
equator.  The  natural  climates  are  parallel 
to  the  planes  of  the  polar  openings,  and  cut 
the  parallels  of  latitude  at  an  angle  of  twelve 
degrees.  When  the  sun  is  on  the  tropic  of 
Capricorn,  the  circle  of  greatest  cold  would 
be  about  twenty-three  and  a  half  degrees 
south  of  the  apparent  verge,  and  when  the 
sun  is  on  the  tropic  of  Cancer  this  circle 
would  probably  be  just  under  the  umbrage  of 
the  real  verge:  hence  it  follows,  if  this  doc- 
trine be  correct,  that  the  climate  of  forty 
degrees  north  latitude  on  the  plains  of  Mis- 
souri, in  the  western  part  of  the  continent  of 
America,  will  be  as  cold  in  winter,  as  the 
latitude  of  fifty  or  fifty-two  degrees  in  Europe ; 
and  observation  has  fully  confirmed  such  to 
be  the  fact. 

The  magnetic  principle  which  gives  po- 
larity to  the  needle,  is  believed  to  be  regula- 
ted by  the  polar  openings,  and  that  the  needle 
always  points  directly  to  the  opening,  and  of 
course  parallel  to  a  line  drawn  perpendicular 
to  the  plane  of  the  opening.  And  when  the 
apparent  verge  shall  be  passed,  the  needle 
will  seem  to  turn  nearly  round,  so  as  to  point 
in  an  opposite  direction;  having  the  con- 
trary end  north  on  the  interior  of  the  sphere^j 


that  was  north  on  the  exterior,  the  same  end 
being  north  on  the  interior  which  was  south 
on  the  exterior.  Hence,  when  navigators 
arrive  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  apparent 
verge,  the  variation  of  the  needle  becomes 
extreme;  and  when  the  verge  is  passed,  the 
variation  is  more  or  less  reversed.  The  me- 
ridians run  from  the  highest  northern  to  the 
highest  southern  point  on  the  verges;  hence, 
in  tracing  a  meridian,  or  sailing  due  norths 
we  would  pursue  that  line  which  would  con- 
duct us  directly  from  the  sun  at  his  greatest 
altitude;  and  when  we  come  to  the  verge, 
the  meridian  would  vary,  and  wind  along  the 
vicinity  of  the  edge  of  the  real  verge,  until  it 
brought  us  to  the  highest  point  of  the  appa- 
rent verge.  The  magnetic  needle,  on  arriving 
at  the  verge  would  appear  to  cease  to  pursue 
the  same  direction,  but  would  in  reality  con- 
tinue to  maintain  it,  and  lead  directly  into 
the  polar  opening. 

According  to  this  formation  of  the  sphere, 
a  traveller  or  navigator  might  proceed  true 
north  any  where  west  of  the  highest  point  of 
the  verge,  say  on  the  continent  of  America^ 
until  he  come  to  the  verge.  The  meridian 
on  which  he  was  travelling  would  then  wind 
along  the  verge  to  the  right,  until  he  arrived 


at  the  ninetieth  degree;  and  by  proceeding 
south,  in  the  same  direction,  he  would  arrive 
at  the  coast  of  Siberia,  without  going  far  into 
the  concavity  of  the  sphere,  and  without 
knowing  that  he  had  been  within  the  verge. 
Should  such  a  journey  be  effected,  it  would 
appear  to  confirm  the  old  theory  of  the  form 
of  the  earth,  and  put  the  subject  at  rest; 
although  pursuing  the  needle  might  have 
directed  the  traveller  into  the  interior,  and 
enabled  him  to  discover  those  fine  countries 
which  Captain  Symmes  alleges  to  exist 

Each  of  the  spheres  composing  the  earth, 
as  well  as  those  constituting  the  other  planets 
throughout  the  universe,  is  believed  to  be^ 
habitable  both  on  the  inner  and  outer  sur- 
face ;  and  lighted  and  warmed  according  to 
those  general  laws  which  communicate  light 
and  heat  to  every  part  of  the  universe.  The 
light  may  not,  indeed,  be  so  bright,  nor  the 
heat  so  intense,  as  is  indicated  in  high 
northern  latitudes  (about  where  the  verge  is 
supposed  to  commence)  by  the  paleness  of 
the  sun,  and  darkness  of  the  sky ;  facts,  which 
various  navigators  who  have  visited  those 
regions  confirm ;  yet  they  are  no  doubt  suffi- 
ciently lighted  and  warmed  to  promote  the 


propagation  and  support  of  animal  and  veget- 
able life. 

The  different  spheres  constituting  our  plan- 
et, and  the  other  orbs  in  creation,  most  proba- 
bly do  not  revolve  on  axes,  parallel  to  each 
other,  nor  perform  their  revolutions  in  the 
same  periods  of  time ;  as  is  indicated  by  the 
spots  on  tlie  belts  of  Jupiter,  which  move 
faster  on  one  belt  than  another. 

The  atmosphere  surrounding  the  sphere  is 
probably  more  dense  on  the  interior  than  the 
exterior  surface,  the  increased  pressure  of 
which  must  increase  the  force  of  gravity ;  as 
the  power  of  gravity  must  increase  in  propor- 
tion as  we  approach  nearer  the  poles. — 
Clouds  formed  in  the  atmosphere  of  the  con- 
vexity of  the  sphere,  probably  float  in  through 
the  polar  openings,  and  visit  the  interior,  in 
the  form  of  rain  and  snow.  And  the  long 
continuation  of  winds,  or  regular  monsoons, 
which  occur  in  some  parts  of  the  earth,  may 
be  supplied  by  winds  sucked  into  one  polar 
opening  and  discharged  through  the  other, 
thus  performing  the  circuit  of  the  sphere; 
without  which  supposition,  it  would  be  diffi- 
cult to  account  for  the  long  continued  winds 
which,  at  certain  seasons,  are  known  to  blow 
<:onstantly  for  several  months,  more  or  less 
obliquely  to  and  from  the  poles. 


The  disciples  of  Symmes  believe  that  each 
sphere  has  a  cavity,  or  mid-plane  space  near 
the  centre  of  the  matter  composing  it,  filled 
with  a  very  light,  subtile,  elastic  substance, 
partaking  somewhat,  perhaps,  of  the  nature 
of  hydrogen  gas;  which  aerial  fluid  is  com- 
posed of  molecules  greatly  rarified  in  compari- 
son with  the  gravity  of  tjie  extended  or  ex- 
posed surfaces  of  the  sphere.  This  mid-plane 
space  tends  to  give  the  sphere  a  degree  of 
lightness  and  buoyancy.  Besides  this  large 
mid-plane  space,  perhaps  numerous  other  inter- 
stices exist  in  the  sphere  nearer  the  surface, 
and  of  more  limited  extent.  The  gas  esca- 
ping from  these  spaces  is,  no  doubt,  the  cause 
of  earthquakes;  and  supply  the  numerous 
volcanoes.  This  gas  becoming  rarified  and 
escaping,  iTfitrst  occasion  most  of  those  great 
revolutions  and  phenomena  in  nature,  which 
we  know  to  have  occurred  in  the  geology  of 
the  earth.  This  aerial  fluid  with  which  the 
mid-plane  spaces  Rice  filled,  may  possibly  be 
adapted  to  the  support  of  animal  life ;  and 
the  interior  surfaces  of  the  spheres  formed  by 
them,  may  abound  with  animals,  with  organs 
only  adapted  to  the  medium  which  they  are 
destined  to  inhabit. 



In  many  parts  of  the  unfathomable  ocean 
there  may  be  communications  or  passages 
from  the  surface  of  the  sphere  on  the  outer 
side  to  the  surface  of  the  inner,  at  least  all 
except  the  great  mid-plane  space,  through 
which  liquid  apertures,  light  and  heat  may 
be  communicated,  perhaps,  to  the  interior 
surface  of  the  sphere. 


Symrnes's  Theory  supported  by  arguments  drawn  from  the 
principles  inherent  in  matter,  and  the  consequences  result- 
ing from,  motion:,  tending  to  show  that, from  necessity, matter 
must  form  itself  into  concentric  circles  or  spheres,  such  as 
Symmejs  describes  the  earth  to  be  composed  of 

IT  is  a  principle  laid  down  by  Sir  Isaac 
Newton,  the  correctness  of  which  is  generally 
admitted,  that  "matter  attracts  matter  in 
proportion  to  its  quantity  and  the  squares  of 
its  distances  inversely."  Captain  Symmes 
contends  that  gravity  consists  in  a  certain  ex- 
pansive quality  in  the  molecules  which  con^ 
stitute  the  aerial  fluid  called  aether,  which 


fills  universal  space,  and  creates  a  pushing, 
instead  of  a  pulling  power.  However,  let 
either  be  correct,  1  conceive  it  cannot  mate- 
rially affect  the  principles  necessary  to  con- 
stitute concentric  spheres:  either  principle,  1 
apprehend,  would  lead  us  nearly  to  the  same 
results.  When  matter  was  in  chaos,  or  in  a 
form  not  solid,  promiscuously  disseminated 
through  universal  space,  suppose  it  then 
should  at  once  receive  the  impression  of  those 
universal  laws  by  which  it  is  governed,  and 
see  what  would  be  the  consequence.  i. 

According  to  Sir  Isaac  Newton's  princi- 
ples of  gravity,  the  particle  of  matter  that 
happened  to  be  the  largest  would  attract  the 
smaller  in  its  neighbourhood,  which  would 
increase  the  power  of  attraction  in  propor- 
tion to  the  increase  of  matter,  until  all  in  the 
universe  would  be  collected  into  one  vast  body 
in  the  centre  of  space,  and  there  remain  mo- 
tionless and  at  rest  forever.  This,  however, 
we  find  not  to  be  the  case;  for  innumerable 
bodies  of  matter,  differing  in  magnitude,  are 
known  to  exist  throughout  the  universe,  ar- 
ranged at  suitable  distances  from  each  other^ 
and  performing  certain  revolutions  in  obedi- 
dience  to  certain  fixed  laws  impressed  on 


Now  suppose  all  the  matter  in  our  globe  to 
be  an  extended  liquid  mass,  the  particles  so 
disengaged  from  each  other,  as  to  take  their 
positions  according  to  the  established  laws  of 
matter,  and  then  see  what  would  be  the 
consequences  resulting  from  motion  and  grav- 
ity. Taking  the  laws  of  Newton  for  our 
guide,  the  particles  of  matter  in  the  centre 
would  be  operated  on  by  the  power  of  gravity 
equally  on  all  sides  and  consequently  be  sta- 
tionary. Suppose  then  a  line  struck  through 
this  globe  of  matter,  so  as  to  make  a  globe  of 
half  the  diameter  of  the  whole  in  the  centre,  it 
is  plain  that  the  inner  globe  would  not  con- 
tain more  than  one  eighth  part  as  much  mat- 
ter as  the  surrounding  one ;  hence  it  would  be 
attracted  tov/ards  the  surface  more  than  to 
the  centre,  were  it  not  for  the  attraction  of 
the  matter  on  the  opposite  side  exerting  an 
influence  upon  it — but  this  being  removed  to 
so  much  greater  distance,  would  not  be  more 
than  an  equipoise  to  the  other. 

The  diameter  of  our  globe,  according  to  the 
best  observation,  is  believed  to  be  about  7970 
English  miles,  and  its  circumference  25,038: 
consequently,  if  it  were  solid,  it  would  contain 
265,078,559,622  cubic  miles  of  matter;  while 


a  globe  of  only  half  the  diameter,  would  con- 
tain only  3^,134,819,952.* 

*The  solidity  of  the  earth  is  easily  calculated  by  the 
measure  of  a  meridional  degree;  but  the  result  will  be 
different  according  to  the  measurement  assumed,  as  the 
length  of  a  degree  differs  in  different  latitudes.  "  Not- 
withstanding all  the  admeasurements  that  have  hitherto 
been  made,  it  has  never  been  demonstrated,  in  a  satisfac- 
tory manner,  that  the  earth  is  strictly  a  spheriod ;  indeed, 
from  observations  made  in  different  parts  of  the  earth,  it 
appears  that  its  ligure  is  by  no  means  that  of  a  regular 
spheriod,  nor  that  of  any  other  known  regular  mathemati- 
cal figure;  and  the  only  certain  conclusions  that  can  be 
drawn  from  the  works  of  the  several  gentlemen  employed 
to  measure  the  earth  is,  that  the  earth  is  something  more 
flat  at  the  poles  than  at  the  equator."  [Keith  on  globes 
p.  56.  New- York,  1811.] 

According  to  Mott's  translation  of  Newton's  Principia, 
book  3,  page  243,  the  equatorial  diameter  of  the  earth  is 
7964  English  miles,  and  the  polar  diameter  7929,  for  as 
230 :  229 :  :  7964 :  7929  miles,  the  polar  axis. 

Cassini,  who  adopted  Picard's  measure  of  a  degree, 
makes  the  diameter  of  the  earth  7967  statute  miles;  oth- 
ers have  estimated  it  at  7917,  and  some  at  7910  miles. 
But  the  estimate  which  is  now  esteemed  most  correct,  I 
believe,  is,  that  the  equatorial  diameter  is  7977  English 
miles,  and  the  polar  diameter  7940.  From  this  we  may 
ascertain  the  solid  contents  of  the  earth.  The  axis  of  the 
earth  then  assumed  to  be  7940  and  7977  miles  respective- 
ly, the  area  of  the  generating  eclipse  is  (7940  x  7977  xt  0,, 
7854=)  49745178,  252:  and  its  area  multiplied  by  two 
thirds  of  the  longer  axis,  gives  the  solidity  equal  to  (4974- 
5178,252  X I  X  7977=)  264544857944,136  cubic  miles. 


Suppose  our  globe  divided  into  parts  of  one 
square  mile  on  the  surface,boimded  by  straight 
lines  converging  to  a  point  at  the  centre,  as 
the  subjoined  figure  represents: 

and  then  suppose  there  were  no  other  particles 
of  matter  in  the  universe  but  A  and  B,  A  con- 
taining 1,32S  cubic  miles  of  matter,  and  Bonly 
166,  A  would  attract  B  so  as  to  make  their 
centre  of  attraction  at  O,  which  point  would 
become  at  once  the  common  centre:  but  ad- 
mitting the  whole  matter  of  the  globe  to  exist, 
Awould  still  exert  its  influence  on  B,  but  both 


would  be  operated  upon  by  T  and  S  and  the 
surrounding  matter,  all  perhaps,  tending  to 
one  common  centre.  However,  1  imagine  that 
the  tending  to  the  centre  would  not  be  so  great 
as  is  contended  for  by  the  generally  received 
theory,  which  alleges  that  matter  at  the  centre 
of  the  earth  is  four  times  as  hard  as  hammered 
iron.  The  Newtonian  philosophy  appears  to 
contemplate  a  globe  at  rest,  and  not  in  such 
rapid  motion  as  we  know  the  earth  and  other 
planetary  bodies  to  be  in,  communicating  to 
them  a  centrifugal  force,  which  tends  to  throw 
matter  from  the  centre.  The  rotary  motion 
of  each  planet  is  no  doubt  regulated  by  the 
quantity  of  matter  it  contains:  so  that  at  its 
surface  centrifugal  and  centripetal  forces  are 
equally  balanced — the  rotary  motion  being 
adequate  to  communicate  a  force  to  counter- 
balance the  force  of  gravity. 

Newton  ascertained  by  his  investigations 
of  the  properties  and  principles  of  matter,  the 
earth  to  be  a  globe  flattened  at  the  poles:  and 
the  French  philosophers  afterwards  confirm- 
ed this  fact  by  measuring  a  degree  in  differ- 
ent latitudes.  This  difference  between  the 
equatorial  and  polar  diameters  of  the  earth, 
and  of  the  other  planets  which  are  also  known 
to  be  of  that  shape,  is  ascribed  by  those 


philosophers  who  attempt  to  account  for  such 
a  formation, to  the  projectile  force  of  the  globe 
at  the  equator  occasioned  by  its  rotary  motion. 
This  is  admitting  that  the  matter  of  our  globe 
was  once  in  so  soft  a  state  as  to  take  its  form 
from  motion ;  for  were  the  earth  a  compact 
solid  body,  and  four  times  as  hard  as  hammer- 
ed iron  at  the  centre,  (as  the  Newtonian  sys- 
tem alleges)  this  rotary  motion  round  an  im- 
aginary axis  could  never  give  to  the  globe 
the  form  of  an  oblate  spheriod,  as  is  ascer- 
tained to  be  the  fact ;  because  a  hard  solid 
body  moving  in  empty  space,  could  not  be  sup- 
posed to  yield  into  that  shape  by  any  law  of 
action  as  yet  unfolded  by  science. 

But  were  the  matter  of  this  globe  thrown 
into  a  confused,  disorganized  state,  and  then 
put  into  a  quick  rotary  motion,  such  as  it  is 
known  to  have,  it  would  throw  off  from  the 
centre  towards  the  surface,  first  the  heaviest, 
and  next  the  lighter  substances,  which  is  the 
very  order  in  which  they  are  found  to  be  ar- 
ranged, in  the  composition  of  the  earth. 

This  principle,  for  it  is  simply  the  princi- 
ple of  projectile  force,  will  account  for  moun- 
tains, hills,  vallies,  plains;  and  for  nearly  all 
the  inequalities  on  the  face  of  the  earth. 
These  circumstances  depend  on  the  density 


of  substances  composing  the  earth.  Substan- 
ces of  the  greatest  specific  gravity  are  sus- 
ceptible of  the  greatest  projectile  force;  and 
hence  we  find  that  mountains  are  composed 
of  heavy  masses  of  rock,  mineral  substances, 
and  heavy  earths;  hills,  or  the  next  highest 
eminences,  of  earth  of  the  next  specific  grav- 
ity;  and  plains,  or  level  lands,  of  lighter  sub- 
stances. Had  the  earth  originally  been  com- 
posed of  one  uniform  substance,  sand,  for 
example,  of  equal  fineness  and  weight,  the 
whole  surface  of  the  globe  would  have  pre- 
sented one  uniform  level  or  unbroken  plain» 
But,  presuming  that  it  was  originally  com- 
posed of,  at  least,  earths  of  different  densi- 
ties, the  heaviest  masses  would  be  first  thrown 
out  and  raise  their  heads  above  the  surface 
of  the  ocean:  thus  islands  would  be  formed; 
and  clusters  of  islands  would  form  continents, 
rearing  their  lofty  heads  into  the  air;  and,  if 
the  substances  of  which  they  were  originally 
composed,  were  not  as  hard  as  the  rocks 
which  we  now  find  on  them,  the  sun  and 
changing  temperature  of  the  climates,  might 
convert  certain  kinds  of  earth  into  masses  of 
stone,  increasing  in  specific  gravity  by  petri- 
faction, and  other  causes,  until  the  towering 
peaks  of  the  Alps  and  Andes  assumed  their 


present  solid  form.  One  continent  having 
thus  emerged,  another  would  naturally  be  pro- 
duced simultaneously  on  the  opposite  side  of 
the  sphere,  as  an  equipoise  to  the  first,  to 
keep  equal  the  earth's  motion;  until  all  the 
heavy  substances  should  be  thrown  out  and 
united  in  a  compact  sphere. 

To  an  observer  of  the  earth  the  crust  every 
where  appears  to  indicate  the  emergence  of 
land  from  water:  almost  the  whole  surface 
of  the  solid  crust  is  alluvial,  and  by  reason- 
ing and  reflecting,  we  are  led  to  the  conclu- 
sion, that  the  solid  parts  of  our  globe  are 
nothing  more  than  a  crust,  and  formed  into 
concentric  spheres,  in  accordance  with  the 
principles  of  projectile  force.  1  would  ask, 
what  proofs  have  we,  that  the  sphere  we  in- 
habit is  solid  beyond  the  degree  of  thickness 
necessary  to  preserve  it  from  injury  by  its  rap- 
id motion  round  the  sun,  by  its  diurnal  motion 
round  its  own  axis,  and  by  its  motion  round 
its  common  centre  of  gravity  with  the  moon? 
It  has  been  ascertained  with  mathematical 
certainty,  that  the  large  planet  Jupiter,  is 
more  than  1300  times  the  bulk  of  the  earth, 
and  Saturn  independent  of  his  double  ring,  is 
about  lOOOtimes  the  size.  If  we  apply  to  those 
prodigious  bodies,  the  reasoning  of  Newton 


relative  to  plastic  forms  moving  variously, 
there  is  no  just  grounds  for  concluding  that 
they  are  solid  substances  to  their  centres. 
If  they  were,  their  vast  weight  and  remote 
position  would  require  much  more  attraction 
than  probably  even  the  sun  could  furnish,  to 
keep  them  within  their  orbits. 

The  acknowledged  and  received  laws  of 
gravity,  together  with  the  measurements 
made  on  the  same  meridian,  in  different  lati- 
tudes, have  demonstrated  to  us  that  the  great- 
est mathematicians  have  been  mistaken  as  to 
the  real  figure  of  the  earth.  It  is  for  school- 
men to  make  exact  calculations,  respecting 
the  force  of  gravity,  and  centrifugal  and  cen- 
tripetal forces;  it  is  for  them  to  determine 
with  mathematical  certainty  where  matter? 
left  to  its  own  laws,  would  settle ;  for  such 
undertakings,  I  acknowledge  my  incompeten- 
cy. But  I  have  long  had  strong  doubts, 
whether  the  laws  of  gravity  are  well  under- 
stood; or  whether  the  rules  on  which  these 
calculations  could  be  accurately  made,  are 
exactly  known.  However,  I  take  the  broad 
principles  of  nature,  as  presented  to  my  view, 
for  my  guide;  and  draw  my  conclusions  from 
what  I  have  seen  or  what  is  well  known  tg 


Observe  the  boy  hurling  a  stone  from  a 
sling;  he  whirls  it  round  his  head  for  a  min- 
ute to  acquire  a  certain  degree  of  centrifugal 
force,  and  although  it  is  not  whirled  with  half 
the  velocity  the  earth  revolves  on  its  axis, 
yet  as  soon  as  it  is  released  from  confinement, 
notwithstanding  the  whole  power  of  the  earth 
is  operating  on  it  with  all  the  force  of  gravi- 
ty, the  centrifugal  force  which  the  stone  ac- 
quired by  the  whirUng  is  sufficient  to  carry  it 
off,  at  a  tangent  to  the  circle  described  by  the 
sling,  for  a  very  considerable  distance,  before 
the  gravity  of  the  earth  and  atmospheric  obr 
struction  can  force  it  to  the  ground. 

If  you  will  take  the  trouble  to  examine  a 
mechanic  grinding  cutlery  on  a  large  stone 
that  is  smooth  on  the  sides  and  has  a  quick 
motion,  you  may  observe  that  if  a  certain 
portion  of  water  be  poured  on  the  perpendicr 
ular  side  whilst  the  stone  is  turning,  it  does 
not  settle  or  form  itself  into  a  body  round  the 
crank  or  axis;  nor  does  the  gravity  of  the 
earth  draw  it  from  the  surface,  but  forms  it- 
self on  the  side  of  the  stone  into  something 
resembling  concentric  circles,  one  within  an- 
other. The  surface  of  the  earth,  I  appre- 
hend, revolves  with  much  greater  velocity 
than  ^ny  grindstone ;  and  the  substances  cora= 


posing  the  spheres  are  much  firmer  than  water. 

Most  of  us,  I  presume,  have  seen  persons  for 
amusement,  in  displaying  feats  of  dexterity., 
place  a  full  glass  of  wine  or  water  on  a  hoop, 
and  whirl  it  round  their  heads  without  spill- 
ing one  drop.  The  centrifugal  force  it  ac- 
quires by  the  revolutions  overcomes  the  power 
of  gravity,  although  nothing  appears  to  sup- 
port it  but  the  common  atmosphere. 

Another  experiment,  producing  a  similar 
effect,  might  be  made  with  a  cup  filled  with 
fine  sand.  On  the  surface  of  the  sand,  de- 
scribe a  circle  nearly  in  the  centre;  it  will 
then  be  apparent,  on  observing  the  cup,  that 
the  sand  within  the  circle,  provided  the  par- 
ticles attract  one  another  as  the  planets  do, 
is  as  much  attracted  towards  one  verge  of  the 
cup  as  the  other;  owing  to  its  being  equajly 
surrounded  by  matter  or  sand,  and  therefore 
it  can  be  but  very  little,  if  any,  gravitated  cen- 
trewise.  Hence,  being  in  a  degree  suspend- 
ed, only  a  small  horizontal  rotary  motion  is 
required  to  whirl  it  towards  the  rim  or  sides 
of  the  cup  into  a  circular  form;  and  hence  it 
follows,  that  those  particles  of  sand  lying 
equidistant  from  the  inner  side  of  the  circle 
of  sand  thus  formed,  and  the  outer  side  would 
be  in  like  manner  balanced,  or  supported,  by 


being  equally  gravitated  in  both  directions. 
A  disposition  would  thus  be  produced  to  form 
into  concentric  circles,  and  it  would  therefore 
follow,  that  successive  similar  dispositions  to 
subdivision  should  occur,  gradually  lessening 
in  force  and  quantity.  This  principle  applied 
to  the  earth  or  other  planets,  would  cause 
them  to  be  formed  into  concentric  spheres; 
and  would  throw  the  matter  from  the  axis,  as 
well  at  the  poles,  as  at  the  centre,  and  there- 
by constitute  open  poles. 

Another  simple  experiment  might  also  be 
made,  to  illustrate  that  a  disposition  to  con- 
centric spheres  does  exist  in  nature.  On  a 
piece  of  paper  sift  a  small  quantity  of  very 
fine  magnetic  particles,  such  as  steel  or  iron 
filings,  under  which  hold  a  loadstone;  and 
you  will  observe  that  the  attractive  power  of 
the  magnet  will  cause  the  filings  on  the  pa- 
per to  arrange  themselves  into  various  con- 
centric circles,  nearly  regular  and  equidistant 
from  each  other.  From  what  cause  should 
this  take  place,  rather  than  that  the  filings 
should  be  accumulated  into  one  mass? 

Various  have  been  the  conjectures  relative 
to  the  cause  and  origin  of  the  meteoric  stones, 
or  fire  balls,  which  have  been  known  to  fall  to 
the  earth,  in  all  ages,  and  in  various  parts  of 


the  world.  Some  have  imagined  them  to  be 
precipitated  from  a  comet  or  some  of  the 
planets;  others  that  they  come  from  the 
moon ;  and  Captain  Symmes's  opinion,  I  be- 
lieve, is  that  they  are  formed  isolated  in  space 
by  spontaneous  accumulations,  as  by  attract- 
ing molecules  of  matter  at  first  in  a  fluid  state? 
which  afterwards  solidifies  by  heat  or  mo- 
tion. But  come  from  whence  they  may,  they 
are  said  to  be  constituted  of  a  substance  un- 
known to  our  geologists;  and  in  several  in- 
stances the  fragments  have  been  ascertained 
to  consist  of  pieces,  some  of  which  have  con- 
cave and  some  convex  surfaces,  affording  a 
certain  proof  that  previous  to  their  descent, 
they  had  been  constituted  of  hollow  spheres. 
Professor  Silliman,  of  Yale  college,  has  pre- 
served some  of  the  fragments  of  one  of  these 
fire  balls;  and  in  his  valuable  journal,  has 
given  the  public  an  able  description  of  the 
facts  which  occurred,  when  they  fell.  This 
fire  ball  fell  in  the  state  of  Connecticut,  in  the 
year  1807,  producing  three  distinct  reports, 
like  a  cannon,  making  three  convulsive  leaps 
or  throes  in  its  course,  which  were  simultane- 
ous no  doubt  with  the  explosions,  becoming 
less  luminous  after  each,  and  being  quite  ex- 
tinguished at  the  third.     Three  showers  of 


stones  fell  to  the  earth  in  aline  with  its  course ; 
the  second  shower  fell  five  miles  distant  from 
the  first,  and  the  last  three  or  four  miles  from 
the  second.  Some  of  the  fragments  were 
found  to  be  concave,  others  convex,  and  espe- 
cially on  those  sides  of  the  fragments  which 
were  glazed  with  sooty  crusted  surface,  as  if 

These  phenomena  are  precisely  such  as 
would  occur,  supposing  the  fire  ball  to  have 
been  a  small  satellite,  or  erratic  planet,  at 
first  fluid,  which  had  become  so  condensed  by 
the  increased  action  of  terrestrial  gravity,  oc- 
casioned by  its  sudden  approach,  as  to  cause 
its  fluid  parts  to  chrystalize  and  form  into,  at 
least,  three  concentric  spheres ;  and  the  la- 
tent heat  and  light  set  free  by  such  rapid 
condensation  as  to  produce  the  meteoric 
flame;  which  in  this  case  was  almost  equal 
in  light  to  that  of  the  sun  at  mid-day.  As 
soon  as  the  spheres  became  sufficiently  solid- 
ified to  prevent  the  heated  aerial  fluid,  con- 
tained in  the  mid-plane  cavities  of  the  spheres, 
from  passing  out  with  freedom,  when  expand- 
ed by  the  heat;  or  let  the  atmospheric  air 
pass  in,  in  case  a  condensation  within  afl'ord- 
ed  a  vacuum;  the  solid  crusts  of  the  spheres 
would  be  disruptured  successively  one  after 


the  other;  lose  their  regular  rotation,  and 
fall  in  fragments  to  the  earth.  The  fall  of 
this  body  is  not  a  solitary  instance  of  the  kind ; 
others  have  fallen  in  many  parts  of  the  earth, 
attended  with  phenomena  more  or  less  the 

On  the  16th  of  January,  1818,  in  Florida, 
near  Mobile  bay,  a  fire  ball  bursted  with  a 
considerable  report.  Immediately  before  the 
explosion,  it  was  observed  to  project  a  cone 
of  fire  from  each  pole  horizontally  and  at 
right  angles  with  its  course.  Its  bursting  like 
a  bomb-shell,  indicated  that  it  must  have 
been  hollow;  and  the  two  cones  of  light 
which  appeared,  beside  its  train,  showed  that 
it  was  open  at  the  poles. 

Turn  your  attention  to  the  general  econo- 
my of  nature  throughout  her  works,  and  you 
will  perceive  in  various  and  almost  innumer- 
able substances  that  she  forms  hollow  cylin- 
ders or  spheres  in  the  room  of  solid  ones.  En- 
quire of  the  botanist,  and  he  will  tell  you  that 
the  plants  which  spring  up  spontaneously, 
agreeable  to  the  established  laws  of  nature, 
are  hollow  cylinders.  If  a  hollow  globe  would 
answer  the  ends  of  supporting  organic  life  as 
well  as  a  solid  one — why  not  be  hollow,  as 
well  as  a  stalk  of  wheat?  or  by  what  laws  is 

,r,4  THE  THEORY 

the  stalk  of  wheat  governed,  that  it  should  al- 
ways grow  hollow?  What  law  in  nature 
causes  the  quills  and  feathers  of  a  bird  to  be 
hollow  cylinders?  Why  are  they  not  solid  ? 
I  presume  it  is  for  this  plain  reason,  that  na- 
ture, throughout  all  her  works,  has  wisely 
assigned  to  every  thing  just  matter  enough 
for  strength  and  usefulness;  and  has  in  no 
case  overburthened  it  with  unnecessary  and 
cumbrous  weight. 

Enquire  of  the  anatomist,  and  he  will  tell 
you  that  the  large  bones  of  all  animals  are 
hollow,  and  particularly  that  the  bones  of 
birds  are  more  than  ordinarily  so:  even  the 
minutest  hairs  of  our  heads  are  hollow. 

Go  to  the  mineralist,  and  he  will  inform  you 
that  the  stone  called  jErolites,  and  many  other 
mineral  bodies,  are  composed  of  hollow  con- 
centric circles;  and,  that  strata  of  different 
kinds  abound  in  various  mineral  substances. 
Even  the  earth  itself  is  composed,  as  geolo- 
gists tell  us,  of  various  strata,  composed  of 
different  substances,  and  varying  from  one 
degree  of  density  to  another.  If  every  part 
of  our  globe  be  regulated  according  to  the  re- 
ceived laws  of  gravity,  and  the  relative  den- 
sity of  matter,  why  do  we  find  almost  all  over 
the  world,  light  alluvial  soil  in  the  vallies  and 


plains;  and  on  the  tops  of  the  highest  moun- 
tains, the  more  heavy  granite,  and  some  of 
the  heaviest  substances  that  nature  knows? 
We  can  hardly  indulge  the  thought  that  all 
this  is  the  work  of  volcanic  eruptions  or  some 
dread  throe  of  nature. 

However,  if  we  direct  our  attention  alone 
to  those  general  laws  which  are  known,  and 
which  are  believed  to  govern  matter,  I  appre- 
hend it  would  be  very  difficult  to  account  for 
the  creation  of  worlds,  and  the  admirable  ar- 
rangement which  subsists  throughout  the 
universe.  To  account  for  every  thing,  either 
according  to  the  old  or  new  theory,  would  be 
attempting  too  much.  It  would  be  placing 
the  Deity  in  some  corner  of  the  universe  an 
idle  spectator,  whilst  matter  governed  by  its 
own  laws,  was  forming  itself  into  worlds  and 
systems ;  the  bare  thought  of  which  is  irrev- 
erent. Is  the  existence  of  matter  owing  to 
some  other  first  cause,  or  did  matter  create 
itself,  and  impress  upon  itself  the  laws  which 
govern  it?  Such  an  idea  is  absurd.  We 
might  as  well  imagine  that  matter  created 
God,  as  itself.  By  attempting  to  trace  every 
effect  to  some  natural  cause,  is  attempting  to 
do  more  than  we  shall  ever  be  able  to  ac- 
complish.   Such  a  course  of  reasoning  must 

56  ^HE  THEORY 

lead  us  to  the  conclusion  that  there  is  no 
God,  or  first  cause ;  or,  at  least,  to  what  would 
be  nearly  the  same  thing,  that  there  is  no 
need  of  one. 

But  in  reasoning  upon  this  subject,  1  take 
it  for  granted,  that  there  is  a  God,  and  that 
he  is  the  first  cause  of  all  things,  the  creator 
of  all  the  orbs  in  the  universe,  be  they  either 
solid  globes  or  concentric  spheres ;  and  1  hope 
such  is  the  reader's  belief.  And  I  cannot 
discover  in  this  any  thing  derogatory  from 
His  infinite  power,  wisdom,  or  divine  econo- 
my, in  the  formation  of  a  hollow  world  and 
concentric  spheres,  any  more  than  in  that  of 
solid  ones.  I  should  rather  be  of  opinion, 
that  a  construction  of  all  the  orbs  in  creation, 
on  a  plan  corresponding  with  Symmes's  the- 
ory, would  display  the  highest  possible  de- 
gree of  perfection,  wisdom,  and  goodness — 
the  most  perfect  system  of  creative  economy — 
and,  (as  Dr.  Mitchill  expresses  it)  a  great  sa- 
ving of  stuff. 



Arguments  in  support  of  Symmes^s  Theory,  draoon  from 
celestial  appearances, 

THAT  a  disposition  to  hollow  cylinders 
does  exist  in  nature,  I  think,  must  be  admit- 
ted; and  that  a  similar  principle  exists  in  the 
planetary  system,  at  least  in  some  degree, 
appears  to  me  as  certain.  Every  person  has 
seen  or  heard  of  Saturn  and  his  rings.  At 
certain  periods  of  time  the  appearance  of  this 
planet,viewed  through  a  good  telescope,  repre- 
sents him  to  be  surrounded  with  two  luminous 
rings  or  bodies  of  matter,  concentric  with 
each  other,  and  with  the  body  of  the  planet. 
These  rings  no  where  adhere  to  the  body  of 
the  planet,  but  are  distinct  and  separate, 
some  considerable  distance  from  him,  and 
from  each  other,  leaving  a  portion  of  vacant 
space  between  the  planet  and  the  rings, 
through  which  we  see  the  fixed  stars  beyond.* 
It  is  a  fact,  1  believe,  admitted  by  all,  and  of 
which  we  have  positive  occular  demonstra- 
tion, that  these  rings  are  constituted  of  some 
kind  of  matter,  if  not  solid,  at  least  to  all  ap- 

*  Physical  World,  p.  42. —Adam's  Philosophy,  vol.  4, 
p,  206;  Philadelphia,  1807, 


pearance  as  much  so  as  the  body  of  the 
planet.  Their  thickness  must  be  very  incon- 
siderable, for  when  the  edge  is  turned  to  the 
eye  it  is  no  longer  visible,  except  to  the  pow- 
erful reflecting  telescope  of  Dr.  Herschel. — 
Thus  the  rings  undergo  phases  according  to 
the  position  of  the  planet  in  his  orbit,  which 
iprove  them  to  be  opaque,  like  other  bodies  in 
the  planetary  system,  and  like  them  shining 
by  reflection.  I  am  not  informed  what  is  the 
precise  velocity  of  the  rotary  motion  of  the 
rings ;  probably  their  varying  aspect,  or  some 
other  cause  has  prevented  a  correct  observa- 
tion from  being  made.  However,  the  planet 
itself  revolves  on  its  axis,  with  an  astonish- 
ing velocity;  and  no  doubt  the  rings  also, 
though  perhaps  with  different  degrees  of 

The  appearance  of  Saturn,  I  conceive,  es- 
tablishes the  fact,  that  the  principle  of  con- 
centric spheres,  or  hollow  planets,  does  exist, 
at  least  in  one  instance,  in  the  solar  system. 
And  if  the  fact  be  established  that  it  exists 
in  one  case,  is  it  not  fair,  nay,  is  it  not  almost 
a  certain  and  necessary  consequence,  that  the 
same  laws  of  matter  which  formed  one  planet 
into  concentric  spheres,  must  form  all  the 
others  on  a  plan  more  or  less  the  same  ?     If 


we  draw  any  conclusion,  or  form  any  opinion 
at  all,  respecting  the  formation  of  the  planets, 
whose  inner  parts  we  cannot  see;  or  if  we 
form  any  opinion  in  relation  to  our  own 
planet  in  particular,  whose  poles  have  never 
been  explored,  would  not  reasoning  from 
analogy  bring  us  to  the  conclusion,  that  all 
bodies  of  matter  are  formed  similar  to  that 
of  Saturn,  unless  we  have  positive  proof  to 
the  contrary?  But  it  is  not  in  Saturn  alone 
that  we  find  proof  of  the  principles  contended 
for  by  Captain  S}'mmes.  Most,  if  not  all  of 
the  other  planets,  belonging  to  our  system, 
whose  relative  situation  afford  us  an  oppor- 
tunity of  observation,  appear  to  exhibit 
strong  proofs  that  the  same  principles  prevail 

The  planet  Mars,  exhibits  concentric  cir- 
cles round  one  or  the  other  of  his  poles,  ac- 
cording as  either  is  more  or  less  in  opposition 
to  us.  These  circles  appear  alternately  light 
and  dark,  exactly  as  they  should,  supposing 
the  planet  to  be  constituted  of  concentric 
spheres,  (such  as  Symmes  believes  of  the 
earth)  the  light  being  reflected  from  their 
verges  on  which  it  falls;  and  in  which  case 
the  vacant  space  between  the  spheres  would 
necessarily  appear  dark. 


Sometimes  he  appears  to  us  with  a  single 
ring  at  each  pole.  At  such  times  his  axis  is 
at  right  angles,  or  nearly  so,  with  a  line  drawn 
from  the  earth  to  his  centre.  This,  I  conceive, 
can  be  accounted  for  by  the  great  refraction, 
occasioned  by  the  increased  density  of  his  at- 
mosphere around  the  poles,  which  appears 
to  throw  out  the  further  sides  of  the  verges  so 
as  to  make  them  appear  like  rings,  in  the 
form  they  present  themselves  to  our  view. 
That  such  is  the  natural  appearance  may  be 
evidenced  by  taking  a  small  wooden  sphere 
with  open  poles,  and  immerse  it  in  a  circular 
glass  vessel  filled  with  water;  when  viewed 
horizontally  through  the  side  of  the  glass, 
with  the  plane  of  the  openings  at  a  right  an- 
gle  with  the  visual  ray,  the  refraction  occa-^ 
sioned  by  the  water,  answering  to  the  dense 
atmosphere  of  Mars,  will  apparently  throw 
out  the  polar  openings,  and  present  you  with 
a  view,  similar  to  the  appearance  of  Mars, 
when  his  axis  is  at  right  angles  to  us. 

Our  next  neighbour,  Venus,  between  us  and 
the  sun,  (though  her  being  between  us  and  the 
sun  prevents  us  from  having  so  favourable  an 
opportunity  of  examining  her  poles,  as  those 
of  Mars,  who  is  our  next  neighbour  on  the 
side  opposite  the  sun)  presents  appearances 


at  certain  times,  which  seem  to  lead  to  the 
conclusion,  that  she  also  is  constituted  of  con- 
centric spheres.  At  times,  when  this  planet 
is  nearly  a  crescent,  we  are  able  to  discover 
a  deficient  space  near  the  tip  of  one  of  her 
horns.  Admitting  Venus  to  be  constituted  of 
concentric  spheres  with  open  poles;  and  sup- 
posing one  of  the  vacant  spaces,  between 
two  of  her  spheres  about  the  polar  openings,  to 
traverse  her  horn  or  cusp,  at  the  place  where 
the  dark  space  occurs, — it  would  present 
to  us  exactly  such  an  appearance  as  does 
actually  occur. 

At  other  times,  one  of  the  horns  or  cusps  of 
Venus  is  seen  to  wind  inward  as  it  were  into 
the  body  of  the  planets,  extending  about  fif- 
teen degrees  further  than  the  other  horn„ 
This  is  an  appearance  which  would  also  be 
presented,  if  Venus  is  formed  according  to 
Symmes's  theory.  And  again,  supposing  one 
of  her  horns  to  terminate  around  the  verge  of 
a  polar  opening,  in  such  way  as  to  follow  the 
curve  of  the  verge  for  some  distance,  (which 
is  of  course  more  curved  than  the  periphery 
of  the  planet)  and  the  same  appearances,  I 
think,  would  occur.  The  axis  of  the  planet 
not  being  at  right  angles  with  the  polar  open- 
ings, in  its  revolutions  one  side  of  the  verge 


would  be  thrown  much  nearer  to  us  than  the 
other;  and  the  different  spheres  revolving  on 
their  axes  with  different  velocities  would  at 
different  times  exhibit  to  our  view  the  verge 
of  a  different  sphere.* 

The  axis  of  the  planet  Jupiter  is  always  at 
right  angles  with  a  line  drawn  to  the  earth, 
consequently  his  poles  are  never  presented  to 
us;  but  his  belts,  which  we  can  and  do  see, 
seem  to  speak  loudly  in  favour  of  a  plurality 
of  spheres.  The  most  common  appearance 
of  Jupiter  is,  that  he  is  surrounded  by  four 
belts;  two  bright  and  two  dark,  alternate  to 
each  other.  But  they  are  variable,  present- 
ing different  appearances;  at  sometimes  sev- 
en or  eight  belts  are  discoverable,  at  other 
times  they  appear  interrupted  in  their  length, 
and  to  increase  and  diminish  alternately,  run- 
ning into  each  other,  and  again  to  separate 
into  a  number  of  belts  of  a  smaller  size.     If 

*"  Dr.  Herschel  has  observed  a  faint  illumination  in  the 
unlighted  part  of  the  planet  Venus,  which  he  ascribes  to 
«ome  phosphoric  quality  of  its  atmosphere."  Editor's  note 
to  Adams'  Philosophy,  vol.  4,  p.  204,  Philadelphia,  1807. 

Quere — Might  not  such  an  appearance  be  accounted 
for  as  rationally,  by  supposing  the  rays  of  the  sun  to 
shine  or  be  reflected,  through  one  of  her  polar  openings, 
and  fall  on  the  verge  of  the  sphere  at  the  opposite  polar 


Jupiter  be  a  solid  globe,  I  would  enquire,  how 
is  it  possible  to  account  for  those  various 
changes  in  his  belts,  or  even  for  their  exist- 
ence at  all  ?  Astronomers,  I  understand,  have 
heretofore  considered  the  phenomena  of  Ju- 
piter's belts  as  altogether  unaccountable.  If 
he  be  a  simple  plain  globe,  those  belts  could 
not  exist;  or  if  they  did,  they  must  forever 
remain  uniform,  and  not  change  their  size 
and  shape,  or  relative  positions  in  respect  to 
each  other;  neither  could  the  spots  on  one 
belt  rotate  faster  than  those  on  another.  But 
if  we  adopt  the  doctrine  of  concentric  spheres, 
and  that  this  planet  is  composed  of  a  num- 
ber of  them,  we  can  account  at  once  for  all 
the  various  appearances  in  a  rational  man- 
ner. The  belts  would  be  produced  by  the 
shadow  cast  on  the  space  between  the  polar 
opening  of  one  sphere  and  the  adjoining  one; 
that  is,  a  portion  of  the  sunshine,  would  be 
reflected  from  the  verges  of  the  spheres  on 
which  it  fell ;  and  another  portion  would  ap- 
pear to  be  swallowed  by  the  intervening 
space.  And  if  refraction  bends  the  rays  of 
vision  between  and  under  his  spheres,  as  it 
bends  a  portion  of  the  rays  of  the  sun,  so  as 
to  produce  the  apparent  belts  of  comparative 
shade,  then  a  very  complete  solution  of  those 


appearances,  heretofore  considered  wonder- 
ful, would  be  afforded.  The  variation  which 
has  been  observed  in  their  number,  shape, 
and  dimensions,  can  in  no  way  be  better  ac- 
counted for,  than  by  concluding  the  planet  to 
be  constituted  of  a  number  of  concentric 
spheres,  of  different  breadths,  revolving  on 
different  axes,  and  with  different  velocities, 
so  as  sometimes  to  present  to  our  view  the 
verge  of  one  sphere,  and  sometimes  that  of  ■ 
another:  and  the  rays  of  the  sun  falling  on 
the  parts  of  the  verges  presented  to  us,  would 
occasion  the  diversified  appearances  which 
we  discover.  If  some  sections  of  both  crusts 
of  the  spheres  be  formed  of  water  alone,  and 
become  occasionally  transpareot,  it  will  af- 
ford an  additional  reason  for  the  varying  phe- 
nomena attendant  oa  these  appearances, 
which  may  also  be  increased  by  alternate 
regions  of  water,  ice,  dry  land,  and  snow. 

Modern  astronomers  have  long  noticed  the 
spots  frequently  visible  on  the  sun.  They  are 
described  as  having  the  appearance  of  vast 
holes,  or  fractures,  in  his  outer  surface  or 
crust,  through  which  an  inner  appears  to  be 
seen.  This,  also,  seems  to  favour  the  doc- 
trine of  different  spheres.  Notwithstanding 
the  sun  revolves  verv  slowly  on  his  axis,  it  is 



probable  that  his  poles  are  open  to  a  greater 
or  less  extent;  but  we  can  never  see  into 
them,  owing  perhaps  to  the  earth,  never  being 
very  far  from  the  plane  of  the  sun's  equator, 
his  being  such  a  vast  deal  larger  than  the 
earth,  and  the  atmosphere  surrounding  him 
so  extremely  luminous. 

Very  little  doubt  exists  in  my  mind,  tliat 
the  poles  of  the  sun  and  of  Jupiter  would  ap- 
pear somewhat  like  those  of  Mars  or  the 
rings  of  Saturn,  were  it  not  that  the  two 
former  never  present  their  axes,  in  any  per- 
ceptible degree,  towards  us;  neither  does  our 
satellite,  the  moon,  ever  present  eitiier  of  her 
poles  to  us:  hence,  though  this  maybe  in 
gome  degree  open,  (notwithstanding  her  slow 
rotation)  owing  to  her  axis  always  being 
nearly  at  right  angles  with  a  line  drawn  to 
the  earth,  we  are  not  able  to  see  whether 
they  are  open  or  not, — more  especially  as 
her  atmosphere  is  so  light  and  rare  as  not  to 
produce  much  refraction.  The  vast  round 
deep  caverns  observable  on  the  surface  of 
the  moon,  appear  as  if  they  might  once  have 
been  polar  openings ;  if  so,  she  must  frequently 
have  changed  her  axis. 

The  spots  of  light  which  have  at  different 
periods  been  discovered  by  astronomers,  on 


the  surface  of  the  moon,  near  her  poles,  when 
she  was  on  the  face  of  the  sun,  in  an  eclipse 
of  that  luminary,  are  perhaps  best  accounted 
far  by  supposing  the  sun  to  shine  in,  either  at 
one  of  her  polar  openings  or  through  a  cavity 
on  her  further  side,  and  appearing  to  us 
through  one  of  her  annular  cavities,  on  this 
side,  and  near  her  poles:  Or  the  sun  being 
much  larger  than  the  moon,  and  the  axis  of 
the  moon  a  little  varied  from  right  angles  with 
the  earth,  (or  perhaps  the  low  side  of  the 
sphere  being  next  to  the  earth,)  the  sun  would 
shine  through  .an  annular  cavity  or  open  pole, 
so  as  to  appear  to  us  as  a  spot  of  light  on  the 
moon's  disk. 

The  foregoing  enumerated  astronomical 
phenomena  are  some  of  the  facts  tending  to 
confirm  and  elucidate Symmes's  theory.  They 
all  have  been  long  known  to  exist ;  yet  I  have 
never  heard  them  accounted  for  to  the  satis- 
faction of  my  mind.  Indeed,  I  believe  some 
of  them  never  was  attempted  to  be  account- 
ed for  in  any  manner  whatever.  I  would, 
therefore,  request  the  reader,  who  may  deign 
to  give  tltg  subject  a  serious  thought,  to  re- 
flect, that  if  all  the  celestial  orbs  are  entire 
round  globes,  as  the  old  theory  considers  them 
to  be,  on  what  principles,  or  in  what  manner, 



could  they  present  the  various  appearances 
which  1  have  emimerate'd'?  Why  should  the 
horns  of  Venus  assume  different  shapes? 
What  would  make  the  appearance  of  belts 
on  Jupiter?  Or  rings  and  concentric  circles 
at  the  poles  of  Mars?  And,  finally,  in  what 
position  could  a  round  solid  globe  be  placed, 
to  exhibit  the  rings  of  Saturn,  revolving  with 
different  velocities,  as  it  respects  each  other, 
and  spaces  appearing  between  them  and  the 
body  of  the  planet,  through  which  stars,  mil- 
lions of  miles  beyond,  can  be  distinctly  seen? 
These  are  phenomena  I  should  like  to  hear 
explained.  On  the  principle  of  concentric 
spheres,  they  can  all  be  accounted  for  in  a 
most  satisfactory  manner.  They  appear  per- 
fectly plain  and  intelligible.  What  was 
thought  to  be  involved  in  inexplicable  myste- 
ry, and  mid-night  darkness,  now  perfectly  ac- 
cords with  the  established  laws  of  nature, 
and  can  be  understood  by  the  most  ordinary 


CHAPTER    r. 

The  Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres,  supported  by  arguments 
drawn  from  Terrestrial  facts;  such  as  the  migration  of 
animals  to  and  from  the  arctic  regions,  and  from,  refract- 
tion,  and  the  variation  of  the  compass,  observed  in  high 
northern  latitudes. 

I  would  now  advert  to  a  few  of  the  known 
terrestrial  facts,  which  have  a  tendency  to 
support  the  theory  advanced  by  Captain 
Symmes;  such  as  the  migration  of  animals, 
including  beasts,  birds,  and  fishes,  in  the 
arctic  regions;  and  from  refraction,  and  the 
variation  of  the  compass  observed  in  high 
northern  latitudes. 

It  is  a  fact  well  attested  by  whalers  an^ 
fishers  in  the  northern  seas ;  and  one  that 
almost  every  author  wlio  adverts  to  the 
northern  fisheries  confirms,  that  innumerable 
and  almost  incredible  numbers  of  whales, 
mackerel,  herring,  and  other  migratory  fish, 
annually  come  down  in  the  spring  season  of 
the  year,  from  the  artic  seas  towards  the 
equator.  Some  authors  describe  the  shoals 
of  herring  alone,  to  be  equal  in  surface  to 
the  island  of  Great  Britain.  Besides  ihese, 
innumerable  shoals  of  other  fish  also  come 


down.  These  fish  when  they  first  come  from 
the  north  in  the  spring,  are  in  their  best 
plight  Rnrl  fatfest  ronditinn:  hut  as  the  sea- 
son advances,  and  they  move  on  to  the  south- 
ward, they  become  poorj  so  much  so,  that 
by  the  time  they  get  on  the  coast  of  France, 
or  Spain,  as  fishermen  say,  they  are  scarce 
worth  catching. 

The  history  of  the  migratory  fish  affords 
strong  grounds  to  conclude,  that  the  shoals 
which  come  from  the  north,  are  like  swarms 
of  bees  from  the  mother  hive,  never  to  return ; 
particularly  the  herring  and  other  small  fish. 
They  are  not  known  to  return  in  shoals:  and 
it  is  doubted  by  some  writers  on  the  subject 
whether  any  of  them  ever  return  north  again, 
or  whether  they  are  not  entirely  consumed  by 
men,  and  by  other  fish. 

Whalers  and  other  fishermen  who  go  to 
the  north,  generally  prosecute  their  business 
in  the  seas  between  latitudes  sixty  and  sev- 
enty degrees,  where  whales  are  most  abund- 
ant. Pinkerton,  in  his  voyages,  states,  that 
the  Dutch,  who  at  different  periods  got  de- 
tained in  the  ice,  and  were  compelled  to 
winter  in  high  northern  latitudes,  could  find 
but  few  fish  to  subsist  on  during  the  winters 
which  proves  that  the  migrating  fish  do  not 


winter  amongst,  or  on  this  side  of  the  ice.— 
All  these  facts  relative  to  fish,  appear  to  be 
well  authenticated.  Now,  were  the  earth  a 
compact  and  solid  spheriod,  according  to 
the  old  theory;  and  were  the  seas  frozen 
nearly  to  the  bottom  at  the  poles,  as  we 
/T  would  be  led  to  conclude,  where  could  all 
(  those  fish,  that  come  down  to  us  every  spring, 
breed?  or,  if  they  even  all  returned  in  the 
autumn,  and  all  the  north  were  a  sea  that  did 
not  freeze  even  to  the  poles,  it  would  require 
a  great  stretch  of  credulity  to  imagine  where 
they  could  obtain  food  for  the  winter;  or  even 
if  their  source  of  food  were  inexhaustible, 
could  the  region  of  the  pole  afford  space  suf- 
ficient for  their  health,  so  as  to  migrate  south 
in  the  spring?  If  the  earth  be  not  hollow, 
(or  at  least  greatly  concave  about  the  poles) 
where  could  all  those  fish  find  room  in 
winter?  But  on  Symmes's  plan,  admitting 
the  globe  to  be  a  hollow  sphere,  and  the 
inner,  or  concave  part,  as  habitable  as  with- 
out, (at  least  as  habitable  for  fish)  the  whole 
matter  is  at  once  explained. 

Whales,  and  various  fish,  delight  in  cold 
regions.  According  to  Symmes's  Theory,  a 
zone  at  a  short  distance  beyond  the  real 
yerge  of  the  sphere,  (which  constitutes  the 


coldest  part,  or  as  he  has  thought  proper  to 
term  it,  "  the  icy  circle,")  commencing  at  the 
highest  point,  in  about  latitude  sixty-eight 
degrees,  in  the  northern  sea,  near  Norway, 
thence  gradually  declining  to  about  latitude 
fifty  degrees  in  the  Pacific  ocean,  which  is 
the  lowest  point,  and  thence  regularly  round 
again  to  the  highest  point.  A  certain  dis- 
tance beyond  this,  and  short  of  the  apparent 
verge,  this  zone,  or  icy  circle  exists,  which  is 
believed  to  be  the  coldest  region  of  the  earth. 
After  passing  this,  we  would  advance  into 
the  interior  of  the  globe,  and  into  a  milder 
clime.  In  the  interior  region,  it  is  contended, 
those  immense  shoals  of  fish  are  propagated 
and  grow,  which  annually  come  out  and 
afford  us  such  an  abundant  supply:  nor  does 
it  appear  that  the  interior  parts  of  the  sphere 
are  altogether  forsaken  by  the  fish  in  summer; 
for  shoals  of  fat  mackerel  and  herring  come 
down  from  the  north  in  autumn,  as  well  as 
in  the  spring. 

The  seal,  another  animal  found  in  cold  re- 
gions, is  also  said  to  migrate  north  twice  each 
year;  going  once  beyond  the  icy  circle  to 
produce  their  young;  and  again  to  complete 
their  growth,  always  returning  remarkably 
fat—an  evidence  that  they  find  something 


more  than  snow  and  ice  to  feed  on  in  the  coun- 
try to  which  they  migrate. 

Numerous  other  facts  of  importance,  rela- 
tive to  the  migration  of  quadrupeds,  are  well 
authenticated  by  travellers  and  others:  par- 
ticularly that  of  the  rein-deer.  In  Rees's  Cy- 
clopedia, under  the  head,  "Hudson's  Bay," 
it  is  stated,  that  the  rein-deer  are  seen  in  the 
spring  season  of  the  year,  about  the  month  of 
March  or  April,  coming  down  from  the  north, 
in  droves  of  eight  or  ten  thousand,  and  that 
they  are  known  to  return  northward  in  the 
month  of  October,  when  the  snow  becomes 
deep.  Hudson's  Bay  is  situated  between 
sixty  and  sixty-five  degrees  north  latitude. 
We  are  informed  by  professor  Adams  of  St. 
Petersburgh,  that  on  the  northern  coast  of 
Asia,  every  autumn  the  rein-deer  start  north- 
eastwardly from  the  river  Lena,  and  return 
again  in  the  spring,  in  good  condition;  the 
mouth  of  the  river  Lena  is  in  about  latitude 
seventy  degrees  north.  This  appears  to  me 
rather  a  mystery  according  to  the  old  theory 
of  the  earth,  for  why  should  those  deer  when 
the  cold  commences,  seek  a  colder  climate, 
and  a  more  sterile  country?  The  inhospita- 
ble coast  of  Liberia  and  Hudson's  Bay,  in  the 
gloom  of  a  dark  winter,  I  should  suppose, 


would  be  cold  enough,  without  their  seeking 
to  spend  the  winter  among  nothing  but  eter- 
nal mountains  of  ice  at  the  pole ;  where  na- 
ture must  be  robed  in  snows  and  crowned  with 

Hearne,  who  travelled  very  high  north  and 
northwest  on  the  continent  of  America,  de- 
tails various  facts  in  his  journal,  which  strong- 
ly corroborate  Symmes's  position.  Some  of 
the  facts  he  attempts  to  explain  agreeably  to 
his  own  ideas,  and  others  he  considers  inex- 
plicable. Among  a  great  collection  of 
facts,  he  states,  that  large  droves  of  musk-ox' 
en  abound  within  the  arctic  circle,  few  of 
which  ever  come  so  far  south  as  the  Hudsons- 
Bay  factories.  He  mentions  seeing  in  the 
course  of  one  day,  several  herds  of  those  ani- 
mals, of  seventy  or  eighty  in  a  herd,  in  about 
latitude  sixty-eight  degrees.  He  states  that 
the  polar  white  bears  are  very  rarely  found 
by  any  of  the  Indians  in  winter;  and  that 
their  winter  retreats  appear  to  be  unknown;* 
that  they  are  sometimes  seen  retiring  towards 
the  sea  on  the  ice  in  autumn;  and  appea 
again  in  great  numbers  in  the  latter  end> 
March,  bringing  their  young  with  them. 

*Heame's  Journal,  pp.  357,  368. 


74  THE  THEORY  ^ 

Hearae  also  states,  that  the  white  or  arctic 
foxes  are,  some  years,  remarkably  plentiful; 
and  always  come  from  the  north;  that  their 
numbers  almost  exceed  credibility  ;  that  it  is 
well  known  none  of  them  ever  migrate  again 
to  the  northward;  and  that  naturalists  are  at 
a  loss  to  know  where  they  originate.*  He 
also  mentions  that  all  kinds  of  game,  as  well 
as  fish,  in  those  high  latitudes,  are  at  some 
seasons  excessively  plentiful,  and  at  others 
extremely  scarce. 

These  facts  stroligly  corroborate  the  doc- 
trine of  a  hollow  .sphere:  otherwise,  why 
should  the  rein-deer,  and  other  animals,  mi- 
grate north  instead  of  south;  as  our  Buffalo 
on  the  plains  of  Missouri  do,  when  pressed 
with  snow  and  cold  weather?  Instinct  gen- 
erally leads  animals  to  fruitful  and  produc- 
tive, rather  than  unproductive,  regions;  why 
then  proceed  north  on  the  approach  of  win- 
ter, unless  in  expectation  of  finding  a  warmer 
climate,  or,  at  least,  a  more  mild  and  plentiful 
country,  beyond  the  icy  circle?  Independ- 
ent of  the  immense  droves  of  rein-deer,  great 
numbers  of  musk-oxen,  white  bears,  and 
white  foxes,  spend  their  winters  towards  the 

*Hearne's  Journal,  pp.  364,  365. 


north;  which  tends  to  establisli  the  fact,  that 
a  considerable  extent  of  land  must  exist  in 
that  quarter  of  the  earth.  This,  however, 
would  infringe  on  the  space  necessary  to  ac- 
commodate the  vast  quantities  of  fish  which 
appear  to  be  propagated  in  that  region,  if  the 
old  system  were  true. 

If  we  were  to  judge  of  the  internal  surface 
of  the  sphere,  by  its  animal  productions, — 
admitting  that  those  animals  heretofore  enu- 
merated, are  propagated  there, — we  should 
conclude  that  the  internal  region  of  the  earth 
is  as  much  more  favourable  to  the  support  of 
animal  life,  as  the  rein-deer  is  larger  than  our 
deer,  and  the  white  bear  larger  than  our  bear; 
and,  consequently,  we  must  conclude  that 
there  are  more  salubrious  climates  and  bet- 
ter countries  within,  than  any  we  have  yet 
discovered  without. 

Hearne  also  informs  us  that  swans,  geese, 
brants,  ducks,  and  other  wild  water-fowl,  are 
so  numerous  aboutHudson's  Bay,  in  the  spring 
and  summer,  that  the  company  every  season 
salt  up  vast  quantities  of  them,  sometimes  six- 
ty or  seventy  hogs-heads.*  He  enumerates 
ten  different  species  of  geese,  several  of  which, 

*Hearne's  Journal,  p,  442. 


(particularly  the  snow  geese,  the  blue  geese, 
brent  geese,  and  horned  wavey,)  lay  their 
eggs  and  raise  their  young  in  some  country 
unknown,  even  to  the  Indians;*  as  their  eggs 
and  young  are  never  seen  by  them,  neither 
have  the  most  accurate  observers  been  able 
to  discover  where  they  make  their  winter  res- 
idence; as  it  is  well  known  that  they  do  not 
migrate  to  the  southward ;  but  few  of  them 
ever  pass  to  the  south,  and  some  of  the  spe- 
cies are  said  never  to  have  been  seen  south 
of  latitude  fifty-nine  degrees.t  Most  of  those 
fowls  molt  or  shed  their  feathers  in  a  peculiar 
manner,  in  summer,  and  become  nearly  na- 
ked. Hence  it  would  seem  that  they  must 
breed  in  winter  while  absent,  for  it  is  impos- 
sible that  they  could  lay  and  sit  whilst  molt- 
ing; whereas,  the  migratory  geese  and  ducks 
of  this  country  are  not  known  to  shed  their 
feathers,  in  any  great 'degree;  and  are  well 
known  to  raise  their  young  in  the  summer, 
whilst  in  the^^north.  It  may,  therefore,  be  in- 
ferred, that  many  of  those  water-fowls,  which 
Hearnedescribes,raise  their  young  beyond  the 
icy  circle  and  within  the  sphere.    As  many  of 

*Herne's  Journal,  p.  442,  443,  444,  445,  446c 
Ibid,  p.  445. 


the  ten  species  of  geese  he  saw  there,  are  un- 
known further  south,  it  establishes  the  fact, 
that  they  do  not  come  to  the  south  to  winter. 
In  the  papers  of  the  Honourable  D.  Bar- 
rington,  and  Colonel  Beaufoy,  on  the  possibil- 
ity of  approaching  the  north  pole,  read  before 
the  Royal  Society  of  London,  there  is  an  ex- 
tensive collection  of  instances  cited,  where 
navigators  have  reached  high  northern  lati- 
tudes; from  which  it  appears  to  be  well  au* 
thenticated,that  navigators  have  in  numerous 
instances  reached  the  latitude  of  eighty-two, 
eighty-three,  and  eighty-four  degrees:*  and 
some  are  said  to  have  sailed  as  far  north  as 
eighty-eight  and  eighty-nine  degrees.f  It  is 
almost  uniformly  stated, that  in  those  highlati- 
tudes,  the  sea  is  clear  of  ice,  or  nearly  so,  and 
the  weather  moderate.^  To  cite  the  various 
instances  in  which  navigators  have  sailed  far 
north,  would  be  too  tedious  :§  the  whole  book 

*Barrington  and  Beaufoy,  pp.  21,  51. 
tibid,  pp.  25,61. 
tibid,  pp  25,  32,37,  61. 

From  the  Katioiial  Intelligencer  of  Sept.  30,  1824. 
$•'  Polar  Seas. — The   fact  that  there  are  open  seas 
round  both  the  earth's  poles,  has  received  strong  corrob- 
oration within  the  last  few  months.     We  have  now  a  let- 
ter on  our  table  from  a  naval  officer  at  Drontheim,  who 


principally  consists  of  a  series  of  facts,  which 
have  a  strong  bearing  on  the  subject,  and  to 
which  I  would  refer  the  reader  who  feels  dis- 
posed to  investigate.  The  whole  appears  to 
strengthen  the  opinion,  that  there  is  a  bar- 
rier, or  circle  of  ice,  about  where  the  wha- 
lers go  to  fish;  but,   when  that   is  passed, 

notices  the  fact  that  Captain  Sabine  had  good  weather, 
and  reached  eighty  degrees  and  thirty-one  minutes  north 
latitude,  without  obstruction  from  the  ice;  so  that  the  ex- 
pedition might  easily  have  proceeded  farther  had  its  ob- 
ject so  required.  We  have  also  had  the  pleasure  to  meet 
recently  witH  a  British  officer  who,  with  two  vessels  under 
his  command,  last  season  penetrated  to  seventy-four  de- 
grees twenty-five  minutes  south  latitude,  in  the  antarctic 
circle,  which  is  about  three  degrees  beyond  Cook's  utmost 
limit.  There  he  found  the  sea  perfectly  clear  of  ice,  and 
might  have  prosecuted  his  voyage  towards  the  pole,  if 
other  considerations  had  permitted.  There  was  no  field 
ice  in  sight  towards  the  south ;  and  the  water  was  inhabit- 
ed by  many  finned  and  hump-backed  whales;  the  longi- 
tude was  between  the  south  Shetland  Islands,  lately  dis- 
covered, and  Sandwich  land:  this  proves  the  former  to 
be  an  Archipelago  (as  was  supposed)  and  not  a  continent. 
The  voyage  is  remarkable  as  being  the  utmost  south  upon 
record;  and  we  hope  to  be  favoured  with  other  particu- 
lars of  it.  At  present  we  have  only  to  add,  that  the  vari- 
ation of  the  needle  was  extraordinary,  and  the  more  im- 
portant as  they  could  not  readily  be  explained  by  the  phi- 
losophical principles  at  present  maintained  on  the  subject." 

Literary  Gazette, 



we  come  to  an  open  sea,  and  a  more  temper- 
ate region. 

The  sea  is  stated  to  be  open,  and  always 
clear  of  ice,  even  in  the  middle  of  winter,  on 
the  northern  part  of  Spitzbergen,  which  is  sit- 
uated in  latitude  eighty  degrees  north;  and 
the  further  north  the  more  clear  it  is  of  ice.* 
But,  at  the  same  season,  on  the  southern 
parts  of  Spitzbergen,  the  sea  is  bound  up  with 
solid  and  compact  ice. 

If  the  doctrine  be  true,  that  the  earth  is  a 
solid  spheriod,  the  cold  must  increase  regu- 
larly as  we  approach  the  pole,  and,  conse- 
quently, vegetation  invariably  diminish:  this, 
however,  is  ascertained  not  to  be  the  fact. 
Nova-Zembla,  which  is  situated  in  north  lati- 
tude seventy-six  degrees,  produces  no  timber, 
nor  even  a  blade  of  grass,t  consequently,  all 
the  quadrupeds  which  frequent  it,  are  foxes 
and  bears ;  both  carniverous  animals.  On  the 
coast  of  Greenland,  about  latitude  sixty-five 
and  seventy  degrees,  neither  timber  nor  grass 
grows  ;J  while  on  the  northern  parts  of  Spitz- 
bergen, they  have  rein-deer,  which  are  often 

*Barrington  and  Beaufoy,  p.  74. 
tPurchas,  vol.  1,  p.  479. 
tHearne's  Journal,  p.  7, 


exceedingly  fat ;  and  Mr.  Grey  mentions  three 
or  four  species  of  plants  which  grow  and  flow- 
er there,  during  the  summer.* 

On  any  meridian  passing  through  England, 
it  is  ascertained  to  be  more  temperate  at  the 
latitude  of  eighty  degrees  north,  than  at  sev. 
enty-three  degrees  rf  and  both  Pinkerton  and 
Barrington  inform  us,  that  beyond  the  lati- 
tude of  seventy-five  degrees,  the  north  winds 
are  frequently  warm  in  winler;J  that  in  the 
middle  of  winter  for  several  weeks,  there  falls 
almost  continued  rain;  and  that  vegetables 
and  animals  are  more  abundant  at  the  lati- 
tude of  eighty  degrees  than  at  seventy-six 

It  has  long  been  observed  that  the  climates 
vary  very  considerably  on  the  same  parallels 
of  latitude.  New  York,  which  is  situated  in 
latitude  40  degrees,  is  known  to  be  considera- 
bly colder  in  the  winter  than  London,  which 
is  situated  in  latitude  fifty-five  degrees;  and 
the  parallel  of  latitude  forty  degrees  on  the 
plains  of  Missouri  is  much  colder  than  the 
city  of  New-York.     The  climate  at   St.  Pe- 

*Barrington  and  Beaufoy,  p.  36. — Dr.  Birch's  history 
of  the  Royal  Society,  vol.  et  seq. 
tBar.  p.  101. 
tBarrington  and  Beaufoy,  pp.  25,  124. 


ters,  on  the  Mississippi,  which  is  in  latitude 
forty-six  degrees,  is  said  to  be  considerably 
colder  than  Quebec*  This  difference  of  cli- 
mate has,  by  some,  been  attempted  to  be  ac- 
counted for,  on  the  principle  that  land  is 
colder  than  water,  and  that  the  cold  is  occa- 
sioned by  the  large  portion  of  land  in  the  con- 
tinent of  America:  however,  I  submit  to  the 
consideration  of  the  reader,  whether  so  great 
a  difference  could  arise  from  a  cause  of  this 

In  the  northern  sea,  between  Spitzbergen 
and  the  continent  of  America,  there  is  a  strong 
current,  which  always  comes  from  the  north, 
and  sets  southwardly.f  It  has  been  stated 
by  some,  that,  in  the  spring  season  of  the 
year,  the  water  of  this  current  is  warmer  and 
fresher  than  the  surrounding  water  of  the  sea. 
Various  other  currents  have,  at  different  times, 
been  observed,  in  different  parts  of  the  sea, 
setting  from  the  north.  Floating  southward- 
ly on   these   currents,  have   been  seen  large 

*At  the  mouth  of  St.  Peter's  river,  in  winter,  it  is  as 
much  colder  than  at  Sacket's  Harbour,  as  Sacket's  Harbour 
is  colder  than  Mobile,  although  St.  Peter's  is  west  and  Mo- 
bile south  of  Sacket's  Harbour,  at  nearly  equal  distances. 

fBarrington  and  Beaufoy,  p.  74. — Ross'  Voyage,  yol.  1> 
p.  52,  London,  1819. 


masses  of  ice,  from  fresh  water  rivers,  with 
wolves  and  bears  occasionally  on  them.  New 
fallen  trees  have  also  been  seen  floating  from 
the  north ;  and  various  kinds  of  timber,  some 
of  which  the  species  have  hitherto  been  un- 
known, are  frequently  found  lodged  on  the 
northern  part  of  the  coast  of  Norway,  having 
drifted  from  some  region  still  farther  north. 
Trees  have  also  been  found  floating  in  the 
ocean  at  latitude  eighty  degrees;  when  no 
timber  is  known  to  grow  north  of  latitude 
seventy  degrees.  Also,  seeds  unknown  to  our 
botanists,  and  those  of  tropical  plants  have 
been  found  drifted  on  the  coast  of  Norway, 
and  parts  adjacent,  many  of  which  were  in 
so  fresh  a  state  as  to  vegetate  and  grow;* 
when  it  is  well  known  that  no  plant  of  their 
species  comes  to  perfection  in  any  known 
climate  far  without  the  tropics.  And,  what 
makes  the  matter  particularly  extraordinary, 
is,  that  these  things  appear  to  be  drifted  by 
currents  coming  from  the  north;  when,  ac- 
cording to  the  old  theory,  we  must  believe  the 
sea  to  be  always  frozen  at  the  poles,  which 
would  render  it  difficult,  if  not  impossible,  to 
account  for  the  existence  of  the  currents  atalL 

*Danvin's  Botanic  Garden. 


In  the  United  States  of  America,  and  in 
Europe,  the  Aurora  Borealis  is  always  seen 
to  the  north:  But  many  of  those  travellers 
and  navigators,  who  penetrated  to  high  north- 
ern latitudes,  observed  the  Aurora  Borealis 
in  the  south,  and  never  in  the  north.  The  re- 
gion in  which  it  is  believed  to  exist,  is  sup- 
posed to  be  about  the  place  where  the  verge 
commences,  and  about  fifty  or  sixty  miles  • 
above  the  plane  of  the  earth's  surface;  and 
that  the  travellers  who  discovered  these  ap- 
pearances south  of  them,  were  at  that  time 
beyond  the  verge. 

The  Indians  discovered  by  Captain  Ross, 
on  the  coast  of  Baffin's  bay,  in  the  summer 
of  1818,  in  latitude  seventy-five  degrees  fifty- 
five  minutes  north,  when  interrogated  from 
whence  they  came,  pointed  to  the  north, 
vhere,  according  to  their  account,  there  were 
"plenty  of  people;"*  that  it  was  a  warmer 
country;  and  that  there  was  much  water 
there.  And  when  Captain  Ross  informed 
them  that  he  came  from  the  contrary  direc- 
tion, pointing  to  the  south,  they  replied,  "that 
could  not  be,  because  there  was  noticing  but 
ice  in'that  direction:"!     Consequently  these 

*  Rosses  Voyage,  v.l,  p.  175. 
jRoss'  Voyage,  V.  1,  p.  110. 


people  must  live  in  a  country  not  composed 
of  ice;  for  il  appears  they  deem  such  an  one 
uninhabitable.  Hence  we  must  infer,  if  the 
relation  given  by  Captain  Ross  be  correct, 
that,  north  of  where  they  then  were,  the  cli- 
mate becomes  more  mild,  and  is  habitable; 
a  change,  the  cause  of  which  is  not  easily 
accounted  for  on  the  old  philosophic  prin- 

In  high  northern  latitudes,  owing  to  refrac- 
tion, or  some  other  peculiar  circumstance, 
which  hitherto  has  not,  to  my  knowledge, 
been  attempted  to  be  accounted  for,  the  ex- 
tent of  vision  appears  to  be  greatly  increased ; 
so  that  objects,  much  further  than  the  ordi- 
nary distance,  are  distinctly  seen  ;  frequently 
appearing  elevated  above  the  sea,  or  their 
real  situation;  and  their  image  sometimes/ 
pictured  in  the  sky.  The  real  objects,  them- 
selves, are  sometimes  seen  with  the  naked 
eye  one  hundred  and  forty  or  one  hundred 
and  fifty  miles,*  and  sometimes  at  the  aston- 
ishing distance  of  two  hundred  miles.  These 
facts  are  well  attested  by  Captain  Ross  and 
other  navigators.  How  this  can  be  account- 
ed for,  on  the  formation  maintained  by  the 

*  Ross'  Voyages,  v.  1,  pp.  71,  136,  199,  206. 


old  theory,  I  cannot  conjecture.  I  believe  it 
is  admitted  that  the  deck  of  a  vessel  at  sea, 
any  where  between  the  equator  and  latitude 
fifty  or  sixty  degrees,  cannot  be  discovered, 
even  by  the  best  telescope,  at  a  greater  dis- 
tance than  twelve  or  fifteen  miles.*  Nay, 
were  there  no  end  to  vision,  and  could  the 
eye  penetrate  two  hundred  miles  through  our 
atmosphere  with  sufficient  clearness,  it  would 
require  an  observer  to  be  elevated  about  fiye 
miles,  before  he  could  discover  an  object  on 
the  surface  of  the  earth  two  hundred  miles 
distant.  But,  on  the  edge  of  the  verge  of  the 
polar  opening,  if  the  atmosphere  were  clear, 
and  the  power  of  vision  strong  enough,  an  ob- 
server might  discover  objects  situated  on  the 
verge  at  any  point  all  round  the  sphere;  as 
they  would  be  on  an  exact  plane  with  the 
observer.  And  on  the  contrary,  travelling 
across  the  verge  from  the  convexity  to  the 
concavity  of  the  sphere,  a  very  few  miles 
make  objects  disappear. 

All  northern  navigators  and  travellers 
agree,  that  high  north  the  sun  becomes  less 
bright,  and   the  sky   darker,  than   in  more 

^Mackenzie  states,  "  that  sometimes  the  land  looms,  so 
that  there  may  be  a  great  deception  in  the  distances." — 
Mackenzie's  Voyage,  p.  11,  New-York,  1802. 



southern  latitudes.  Is  not  this  owing  to  the 
rays  of  the  sun  being  refracted  round  the 
verge  of  the  polar  opening ?  Another  circum- 
stance, observed  by  navigators,  who  have 
visited  high  latitudes  is,  that  the  latitude 
and  longitude,  as  found  by  celestial  observa- 
tion, frequently  differ  very  materially,  some- 
times as  much  as  one  half,  from  that  given 
by  the  log-line.*  It  has  also  been  observed 
that  the  mercury  in  the  barometer  is  less 
fluctuating  in  northern  regions,  than  it  is 
further  south. 

Those  appearances  observed  in  the  south- 
ern hemisphere,  which  are  termed  Magel- 
lanic clouds,  by  navigators,  have  not,  solar 
as  1  know,  been  accounted  for.  They  are 
three  in  number,  of  an  irregular  shape,  and 
observed  by  night  in  the  South  Atlantic,  and 
the  south-east  parts  of  the  Pacific  oceans, 
(reversed  from  New-Holland  and  New-Zea- 
land,) but  never  visible  in  the[eastern  parts  of 
the  Indian  ocean:  their  colour  is  like  that  of 
far  distant  mountains,  on  which  the  sun  is 
shining.  In  the  one  sea  they  appear  due 
south,  and  in  the  other  to  the  left.  They  are 
stationary,  appearing  perpetually  fixed  at  a 
certain  height,  and  in  a  particular  situation, 

*  Ross' Voyage,  v.  2,  p.  4,  London,  1819, 


as  viewed  from  any  given  place.  The  stars 
and  the  heavens,  in  their  diurnal  revolutions, 
sweep  by  them,  and  they  remain  the  same. 
To  the  navigator,  who  proceeds  to  the  east 
or  west,  they  appear  to  be  more  or  less  to 
the  right  or  left  of  the  meridian,  in  proportion 
as  he  changes  his  longitude ;  and  as  he  sails 
south,  they  increase  in  height,  until  they  reach 
the  zenith,  and  finally  become  north,  when 
seen  by  an  observer  south  of  the  straits  of 
Magellan,  which  is  in  latitude  fifty-two  de- 
grees south.  Captain  Symmes  accounts  for 
the  appearance  of  these  clouds  by  the  great 
refractive  power  of  the  atmosphere  about  the 
polar  openings;  causing  the  opposite  side  of 
the  verge  to  appear  pictured  in  the  sky,  as 
navigators  inform  us  objects  do  sometimes 
appear, in  the  arctic  regions;  and  in  the  man- 
ner Scoresby's  ship  appeared  in  the  sky,  with 
every  particular  about  her  so  accurately  rep- 
resented, as  to  be  at  once  identified  by  the 
observers,  though  the  vessel,  at  that  time, 
was  at  such  a  distance  as  to  render  it  rather 
incredible  how  she  could  be  seen  at  aih  As 
proof  of  this  position,  Captain  Symmes  alle- 
ges, that  the  relative  position,  shape,  and 
proportions  of  these  clouds,  agree  in  their  gen- 
eral outlines  with  the  southern  part  of  New 

88  THE  THEORY  ^ 

Zealand,  the  southeast  part  of  New-Holland, 
and  the  whole  of  Van-Dieman's  land,  which 
are  situated  on,  and  near  to  the  verge  of  the 
sphere,  opposite  to  where  the  clouds  are  visi- 
ble. These  clouds  are  only  seen  in  the  night 
when  the  atmosphere  is  clear,  at  v/hich  time 
the  sun  is  shining  on  the  islands  in  question. 
Hence  it  is  alleged,  that  from  these  facts, 
their  relative  appearance  is  deducible.  As 
we  are  never  sensible  that  the  rays  of  light 
are  refracted  by  the  medium  through  which 
they  pass  before  they  reach  our  visual  or- 
gans; we  frequently  imagine  objects  to  be 
situated  where  they  really  are  not;  and  such 
is  believed  to  be  the  case  as  respects  Van- 
Dieman's  and  the  circumjacent  land,  as  be- 
fore described. 

Franklin,  in  his  journey  far  north,  on  the 
continent  of  America,  discovered  a  cloud, 
which  appeared  to  remain  always  in  the  same 
position,  and  which  the  Indians  informed  him 
was  permanent.  Not  having  the  book  at 
hand,  I  cannot  now  advert  particularly  to 
what  he  says  on  the  subject:  but,  from  mem- 
ory only,  recollect  that  he  states  something 
to  that  effect.  If  such  an  appearance  exist 
there,  may  it  not  be  accounted  for  in  the  same 
manner  as  the  Magellanic  clouds? 


Navigators,  who  have  sailed  far  north,  ad- 
mit the  variation  of  the  needle  to  be  exces- 
sive. Captain  Ross  found  it  in  Baffin's  Bay, 
to  be  as  much  as  one  hundred  and  ten  de- 
grees; and  Parry,  during  his  voyage  in  1822, 
found  it  so  changed,  that  the  needle  pointed 
within  about  fourteen  degrees  of  south.  All, 
I  believe,  concur,  that  this  is  a  phenomenon 
which  universally  occurs  in  high  northern  lat- 
itudes; but  it  has  hitherto  remained  unex- 
plained. I  believe,  according  to  the  old  the- 
ory, the  needle  is  imagined  to  be  attracted 
by  something  at  or  near  the  pole:  were  this 
supposition  correct,  the  needle  would  uniform- 
ly maintain  its  polarity  on  proceeding  north, 
on  any  given  meridian,  until  you  arrived  at  the 
very  pole  itself.  The  possibility  of  a  mo- 
ving magnetic  cause  is  difficult,  if  not  impos- 
sible, to  be  reconciled  with  a  solid  globe; 
yet  that  the  magnetic  needle  does  vary  on  the 
same  meridian,  and  to  a  most  extraordinary 
degree,  in  high  northern  latitudes,  is  confirm- 
ed beyond  all  doubt.  Why  not  then  urge  the 
variableness  of  the  magnetic  cause  against 
the  possibility  of  a  solid  globe? 

According  to  the  doctrine  of  hollow  spheres, 
this  whole  mystery,  of  the  variation  of  th& 
compass,   can   be    satisfactorily    explained, 


The  magnetic  needle,  it  is  believed,  regards 
the  centre  of  the  polar  opening,  and  not  the 
pole  or  axis  of  the  earth.  It  will  be  recollected, 
that  the  axis  of  the  earth,  being  at  an  angle 
of  twelve  or  fifteen  degrees  from  the  plane  of 
the  polar  openings,  causes  one  part  of  the 
verge  to  extend  farther  north  than  the  other, 
the  highest  part  of  which  is  nearly  on  a  me- 
ridian running  through  Spitzbergen,  in  about 
latitude  sixty-eight  degrees,  and  the  lower- 
most side  in  about  the  fiftieth  degree.  Now 
in  proceeding  north  on  the  first  meridian,  run- 
ning near  Spitzbergen,  there  ought  to  be  no 
variation  of  the  needle  until  you  arrive  at  the 
apparent  verge,  when  the  needle  would  cease 
to  traverse;  and  by  proceeding  onwards, 
would  turn  and  point  south.  Should  you  pro- 
ceed north,  on  a  meridian  west  of  this,  when 
you  approached  the  apparent  verge,  the  nee- 
dle would  seem  to  turn  west,  but  in  reality,  it 
would  be  the  meridian  turning  to  the  right 
along  the  verge  to  its  highest  or  most  north- 
erly point;  the  needle  keeping  at  a  right  an- 
gle with  the  verge.  And,  in  like  manner,  pur- 
suing a  course  north,  on  a  meridian  east  of 
Spitzbergen,  on  your  approach  to  the  appar- 
ent verge,  the  needle  would  still  direct  its 
course  at  a  right  angle  into  the  polar  opening. 


(governed,  most  probably,  by  some  princi- 
ple of  electricity,  or  other  property  contained 
in  matter,  and  kept  in  one  position,  subject 
to  the  shape  of  the  earth,  which  may  not  even 
yet  be  exactly  known,)  the  meridian  would 
here  wind  to  the  left,  and  conduct  you  to  the 
highest  point  of  the  apparent  verge,  north  of 
Spitzbergen.  Hence  the  variation  of  the 
needle  would  be  east  in  Asia,  and  west  in 
America,  which  1  am  told  is  the  fact.  From 
an  examination  of  the  variation  of  the  com- 
pass, as  ascertained  in  different  degrees  of 
latitude  and  longitude,  it  increases  as  you 
proceed  north,  and  west;  which  would  be 
exactly  the  case  in  accordance  with  the 
theory  of  concentric  spheres.* 

Admitting  the  earth  to  be  a  solid  globe, 
and  the  cause  of  magnetism  to  be  some  at- 
tractive power  at  the  pole,  how  could  the 
needle  vary  differently  on  the  same  meridian, 
in  different  latitudes,  at  the  same  period  of 
time,  or  vary  at  the  same  place,  at  different 
periods  of  time?  But,  admit  the  doctrine 
contended  for,  by  the  advocates  of  concen- 
tric spheres,  and  it  can  be  satisfactorily  ex- 
plained.     The  observations  of  modern  as- 

^Ross'  Voyage,  v.  2,  p.  119. 


tronomers,  have  ascertained,  that  the  poles, 
or  axis  of  the  earth,  are  not  always  directed 
to  the  same  fixed  star;  and,  of  consequence, 
that  the  axis  does  not  always  remain  paral- 
lel to  itself  This  variation  is  discovered  to 
be  about  fifty-one  minutes  annually;  which 
would  make  a  degree  in  about  seventy-one 
years:  hence  the  needle  always  pointing  to 
the  polar  opening,  would  vary  in  about  that 
proportion,  at  the  same  place,  in  the  same 
period  of  time.* 

^Physical  World,  p.  72. 



Facts  tending  to  illustrate  and  prove  (he  existence  of  a  mid- 
plane-space,  situated  between  the  concave  and  convex 
surfaces  of  the  sphere. 

ACCORDING  to  Symmes's  Theory,  each 
sphere  has  an  intermediate  cavity,  or  mid- 
plane-space,  of  considerable  extent,  situated 
between  the  convex  and  concave  surfaces  of 
the  spliere,  filled  with  a  very  light  and 
elastic  fluid,  rarified  in  proportion  to  the 
gravity,  or  condensing  power  of  the  exposed 
surfaces  of  the  respective  spheres:  and  also, 
various  other  less  cavities  or  spaces  be- 
tween the  larger  or  principal  one,  and  the 
outer  and  inner  surfaces  of  the  spheres,  each 
filled  with  a  similar  fluid  or  gas,  most  proba- 
bly partaking  much  of  the  nature  of  hydrogen. 
This  fluid  is  lighter  than  that  in  which  the 
sphere  floats;  and  has  a  tendency  to  poise  it 
in  universal  space.  The  spheres,  in  many 
parts  of  the  unfathomable  ocean,  is  believed 
to  be  water  quite  through  from  the  concave 
or  convex  surfaces  to  the  great  mid-plane- 
space,  and  probably  the  earthy  or  solid 
matter  of  the  sphere,  may  in  many  places 
extend  quite  through  from  one  surface  to  the 


other,  tending,  like  ribs  or  braces,  to  support 
the  sphere  in  its  proper  form.  Such  a  forma- 
tion of  spheres  appears  to  be  supported  by 
various  facts  and  phenomena;  amongst  the 
most  prominent  of  which  are  Volcanoes  and 
Earthquakes.  Many  volcanic  mountains 
burst  out  and  burn  for  ages,  discharging  from 
the  bowels  of  the  earth  immense  quantities 
of  lava,  pumice,  and  vitrious  substances  of 
various  kinds.  Some  of  these  mountains  have 
been  burning  for  thousands  of  years,  at  least 
as  far  back  as  the  records  of  history  have 
been  made  known  to  us. 

Had  the  earth,  at  its  formation,  been  a 
solid  globe,  four  times  as  hard  as  hammered 
iron  at  the  centre,  and  gradually  lessening  in 
density  towards  the  surface,  we  must  ad- 
mit that  it  would  still  be  solid  matter.  Govern- 
ing ourselves  by  these  principles,  how  can  we 
imagine  that  such  immense  caverns,  filled 
with  combustible  matter,  as  would  be  neces- 
sary to  supply  those  volcanoes  from  time  im- 
memorial,could  have  existed?  However, that 
they  do  exist  is  certain,  which  1  think  is  in 
no  way  more  easily  accounted  for,  than  on  the 
plan  o(  a  mid-plane-space,  or  of  spaces,  filled 
with  a  certain  hydrogenous  gas,  which  being 
much  lighter  than  atmospheric  air,  if  there 


should  be  any  small  aperture  or  crevice  ex- 
tending from  the  surface  to  the  space  beneath, 
the  gravity  of  the  outer  part  of  the  sphere 
pressing  on  it  would  occasion  a  portion  of 
this  gas  to  escape  through  the  aperture;  and 
as  it  comes  in  contact  w^ith  the  oxygen  of  the 
atmosphere  would  take  fire  and  occasion 
those  tremendous  explosions  which  we  know 
do  sometimes  take  place  and  cause  those 
mountains  to  burn  for  years,  until  the  cavity 
which  supplied  the  volcanic  matter,  becomes 
exhausted  ;  or  until  some  shock  or  convulsion 
consequent  on  the  burning,  may  have  loosened 
rocks  or  earth  of  the  denser  part  of  the 
sphere,  which  falling  into  the  aperture,  choke 
it  up.  Hence  the  gas  ceasing  to  escape,  the 
volcano  would  cease  to  burn,  until  some  shock  .' 
or  accident  should  again  open  the  aperture. 

The  elastic  fluid,  with  which  the  mid-plane 
cavities  are  filled,  being  forced  out  into  the 
common  atmosphere,  the  greater  degree  of 
gravity  would  condense  and  set  free  its  latent 
heat  or  caloric,  and  be  resolved  into  its  origin- 
al base,  somewhat  as  coal-gas,  out  of  the 
tube  of  a  gas-light  apparatus,  yields  up  its 
latent  heat  by  condensation.  Hence  steam 
burns  when  mixed  with  coal-gas. 

If  the  earth  be  a  solid  globe,  I  am  at  a  loss 
to  account  for  the  principles  on  which  earth- 


quakes  occur.  Long  before  I  heard  ot 
Symmes's  theory,  or  perhaps  before  it  had  an 
existence  in  the  mind  of  man,  when  reading 
accounts  of  earthquakes,  it  appeared  to  me 
altogether  unaccountable,  that  such  violent 
concussions  could  take  place  in  one  part  of 
the  world,  and  not  be  felt  throughout  the 
globe.  It  appears  altogether  inconsistent, 
that  one  part  of  a  solid  piece  of  matter,  would 
be  shaken  so  violently,  without  affecting  the 
whole  mass.  We  are  informed  by  authentic 
history,  that  whole  islands,  and  vast  sections 
of  country,  have  been  sunk  by  earthquakes, 
and  never  more  heard  of.  On  the  other  hand, 
islands  which  are  now  inhabited,  and*pro- 
ductive,  have  been  raised,  apparently,  from 
the  bottom  of  the  unfathomable  ocean.  How 
such  things  occur,  1  am  unable  to  divine.  If 
the  globe  be  solid,  on  what  principle  could  a 
large  portion  of  its  surface,  which  is  said  to 
be  lighter  than  the  parts  beneath,  sink  into  a 
dense  medium?  How  could  a  heavy  mass, 
lying  a  thousand  fathoms  deep  at  the  bottom 
of  the  ocean,  rise,  and  be  suddenly  elevated 
above  the  surface  of  the  water,  when  all  be- 
low is  so  compact,  and  governed  by  an  op- 
posite and  immutable  tendency?  -  It  appears 
to  be  a  solecism  in  nature. 


The  writer  had  once  an  opportunity  of 
witnessing  some  of  the  effects  of  earthquakes. 
It  was  his  fortune  to  be  on  the  Mississippi 
river  in  the  year  1812,  at  the  time  when  that 
country  was  so  violently  convulsed  with  an 
earthquake.  He  saw  and  heard  innumerable 
explosions,  as  though  a  large  quantity  of  air 
had  been  confined  in  the  bowels  of  the  earth, 
and,  seeking  vent,  rushed  out  with  a  tremen- 
dous sound  ;  forcing  up  considerable  quantities 
of  sand  through  the  apertures,  in  many  in- 
stances mixed  with  black  muddy  water,  and 
a  substance  resembling  stone  coal,  or  carbon- 
ated wood,  which  emitted  a  strong  bitumin- 
ous odour,  when  exposed  to  fire 

At  one  place  the  river  was  stopped  in  its 
course  a  short  time:  the  water  rose  to  a  con- 
siderable height  above  its  common  level ;  and, 
on  the  west  side  of  the  channel  of  the  river, 
there  was  a  counter-current  for  a  few  minutes 
of  an  astonishing  velocity.  So  great  was  its 
force,  that  for  some  distance  the  cotton  wood 
and  willows  on  the  margin  of  the  river,  were 
either  prostrated  or  bent  up  the  stream;  and 
their  branches  looked  as  if  they  had  been 
dragged  a  long  way  on  the  ground.  The  wa- 
ters of  the  river  soon  subsided,  and  flowed  in 
their  natural  direction. 

I  ■'   :  .m        ■ 


So  tremendous  were  those  explosions,  that 
when  happening  under  large  trees,  the  tena- 
city of  their  texture  yielded  at  once  to  their 
force  ;  and  the  largest  in  the  forest  were  split 
and  fractured  from  root  to  top.  During  these 
convulsions,  the  ground  on  which  the  town 
of  New-Madrid  is  situated,  together  with  the 
country  for  several  miles  round,  sunk  about 
live  feet  below  its  former  elevation;  in  which 
situation  it  has  remained.  Eight  years  af- 
terwards the  writer  was  again  on  the  same 
spot.  The  desolate  aspect,  which  the  coun- 
try presented  at  the  lime  he  witnessed  those 
scenes,  was  measurably  obliterated:  but  the 
banks  of  the  river  were  still  in  their  sunken 

How  could  all  those  violent  convulsions 
take  place  at  this  point,  and  not  be  felt  at 
New-Orleans,  along  the  sea  coast  of  the  Uni- 
ted States,  and  other  places  ?  Whence  came 
this  water  and  air,  which  issued  from  those 
apertures  in  the  earth?  And  why  did  the 
river  for  a  few  minutes  flow  in  a  contrary  di- 
rection, and  then  resume  its  natural  course? 
If  the  earth  be  a  compact  and  solid  globe,  I 
can  account  for  none  of  these  things ;  but  ad- 
mitting the  formation  of  the  sphere  to  be  such 
as  I  contend  for,  they  are  all  resolved  into  the 


most  simple  principles ;  and  what  would  oth- 
erwise be  impenetrable  mystery,  is  made  as 
plain  as  noon-day.  If  the  sphere  be  formed 
as  I  allege,  those  concussions  were  doubtless 
occasioned  by  the  gas  or  fluid  in  the  mid-plane 
or  some  intermediate  space,  near  the  surface, 
which,  by  being  suddenly  rarified,  would  make 
it  expand,  and  cause  the  upper  part  of  the 
sphere  to  be  suddenly  elevated  in  the  neigh-;, 
bourhood  of  the  Little  Praire;  and  hence  the 
waters  of  the  river,  pursuing  the  laws  of  grav- 
ity, would  flow  in  a  contrary  direction.  This 
sudden  expansion,  and  elevation  of  the  sur- 
face, would  cause  apertures,  through  which, 
the  rare  gas  would  escape,  and  the  surface 
would  then  settle  down  again,  not  only  to  its 
former  level,  but,  as  a  considerable  portion  of 
this  gas  had  escaped,  the  remaining  part 
would  occupy  less  space ;  hence  the  surface 
of  the  country,  around  New-Madrid,  would 
be  below  its  former  situation.* 

*Earthquakes. — M.  Biot,  after  detailing  the  phenome-' 
na  of  the  earthquake,  on  the  22d  of  February,  1822,  con- 
cludes an  interesting  paper  with  these  observations: — 

In  the  infancy  of  Chemistry  and  Natural  Philosophy,  it 
was  imagined  that  earthquakes  might  be  easily  explain- 
ed; in  proportion  as  these  sciences  have  become  more 
correct  and  more  profound,  this  confidence  has  decreased. 


The  fluid,  or  gas,  which  fills  the  mid-plane 
and  intermediate  cavities,  is  most  probably 
the  same,  or  partaking  of  the  same  nature, 
(though  perhaps  in  a  purer  state,)  with  that 
which  oozes  out  of  fissures  in  the  earth,  at 
the  bottom  of  deep  mines,  called  by  chemists, 

Bi]t  by  a  propensity,  for  which  the  character  of  the  human 
mind  sufficiently  accounts,  all  the  new  physical  agents 
which  have  been  successively  discovered,  such  as  elec- 
tricity, magnetism,  the  inflammation  of  gases,  the  decom- 
position and  recomposition  of  water,  have  been  maintain- 
ed in  theories  as  the  causes  of  the  great  phenomena  of  na- 
ture. Now  all  these  conjectures  seem  to  be  insufficient  to 
explain  convulsions  so  extensive,  produced  at  the  same 
time  over  such  large  portions  of  the  earth,  as  those  which 
take  place  during  earthquakes.  The  most  probable  opin- 
ion, the  only  one  which  seems  to  us  to  reconcile,  in  a  cer- 
tain degree,  the  energy,  the  extent  ol  these  phenomena, 
and  often  their  frightful  correspondence  in  the  most  dis- 
tant countries  of  the  globe,  would  be  to  suppose,  conform- 
ably to  many  other  physical  indications,  that  the  solid 
surface  on  which  we  live  is  but  of  inconsiderable  thickness 
in  comparison  with  the  semi-diameter  of  the  terrestrial 
globe;  is  in  some  measure  only  a  recent  shell,  covering  a 
liquid  nacleus,  perhaps  still  in  a  state  of  ignition,  in  which 
great  chemical  or  physical  phenomena  operating  at  inter- 
vals cause  those  agitations  which  are  transmitted  to  us. 
The  countries  where  the  superficial  crust  is  less  thick  or 
less  strong,  or  more  recently  or  more  imperfectly  consoli- 
dated, would  agreeably  to  this  hypothesis,  be  those  the 
most  liable  to  be  convulsed  and  broken  by  the  violence  of 


hydro-carbonate ;  which  being  highly  inflam- 
mable, takes  fire  from  the  lamps  used  by- 
workmen,  and  explodes  with  such  violence 
as  to  destroy  both  men  and  horses  employed 
in  the  mine.  This  is  a  frequent  occurrence 
in  the  deep  coal  mines  of  England;  and  great 
numbers  annually  have  lost  their  lives  in  this 
way,  before  the  introduction  of  Sir  Humphrey 
Davy's  lamp.  I  am  also  informed,  from  good 
authority,  that  the  miners,  in  some  of  the 
deep  coal   mines  in   England,    once   felt,  or 

these  internal  explosions.  Now  if  we  compare  together 
the  experiments  on  the  length  of  the  pendulum,  which  have 
been  made  for  some  j'^ears  past  with  great  accuracy,  from 
the  north  of  Scotland  to  the  south  of  Spain,  we  readily 
perceive  that  the  intensity  of  gravitation  decreases  on 
this  space,  as  we  go  from  the  Pole  towards  the  Equator, 
more  rapidly  than  it  ought  to  do  upon  an  ellipsoid,  the 
concentric  and  similar  strata  of  which  should  have  equal 
densities  at  equal  depths;  and  the  deviation  is  especially 
sensible  about  the  middle  of  France,  where  too  there  has 
been  observed  a  striking  irregularity  in  the  length  of  the 
degrees  of  the  earth.  This  local  decrease  of  gravity  in 
these  countries  should  seem  to  indicate,  with  some  proba- 
bility, that  the  strata  near  the  surface  must  be  less  dense 
there  than  elsewhere,  and  perhaps  have  in  their  interior 
immense  cavities.  This  would  account  for  the  existence 
of  the  numerous  volcanos  of  which  these  strata  show  the 
traces,  and  explain  why  they  are  even  now,  at  intervals, 
the  focus  of  subterraneous  convulsions. 


lieard  an  earthquake,  which  happened  in  Ita- 
ly, whilst  those  on  the  surface  of  the  ground 
had  no  knowledge  of  it.  This  would  be  the 
case,  if  the  intermediate  cavity,  which  caused 
the  earthquake,  extended  in  that  direction, 
and  near  the  bottom  of  the  mine;  as  it  is 
presumed  the  rare  gas  with  which  those 
spaces  are  filled,  is  better  adapted  to  the 
conveyance  of  sound,  or  vibratory  motion, 
than  the  more  solid  parts  of  the  sphere,  or 
even  the  atmosphere  around  us. 

On  the  supposition  that  the  globe  is  solid, 
and  the  matter  composing  it  at  rest,  as  re- 
spects itself,  on  What  principle  can  boiling 
and  hot  springs  be  accounted  for;  some  of 
which  issue  out  several  thousands  of  miles 
distant  from  where  any  volcano  or  subterra- 
nean fire  is  known  to  exist;  particularly  as 
to  those  on  the  waters  of  Red  river,  in  the 
state  of  Louisiana,  which  are  sufticiently  hot 
to  cook  meat  in  a  few  minutes. 

Phenomena  which  occur  in  various  lakes 
in  Europe,  may  be  adverted  to  in  support  of 
this  theory.  The  waters  of  lake  Zirchnitzer, 
in  the  Dutchy  of  Carniola,  in  Germany,  flow 
off,  and  leave  the  basin  empty;  and  again  fill 
it,  in  an  extraordinary  and  impetuous  man- 
ner; bringing   up  with    its  waters  fish   and 


^.veii  sometimes  wild  water  fowl*  In  the 
same  country,  there  is  a  subterranean  lake, 
in  the  Grotto  Podspetschio,  of  considerable 
extent;  the  whole  of  this  vast  body  of  water, 
at  certain  times,  will  disappear  in  a  few 
minutes,  and  leave  the  basin  dry;  and  after  a 
few  weeks,  it  again  suddenly  returns,  with  a 
frightful  noise.  The  lake  of  Geneva,  and 
some  others  in  Switzerland,  at  certain  times 
rise  and  fall  several  feet  without  any  cause, 
which  has  as  yet  been  satisfactorily  explain- 
ed ;  and  some  writers  inform  us,  that  those 
lakes,  particularly  Geneva,  send  forth,  at 
times,  a  grumbling  noise.  In  the  Saian  moun- 
tains, near  the  source  of  the  Yenisei,  is  a 
lake,  called  Boulamy-Koul,  which,  at  the 
approach  of  winter,  emits  strange  sounds, 
somewhat  similar  to  those  which  precede  the 
eruption  of  a  volcano,  and  which  are  com- 
pared by  the  neighbouring  inhabitants  to 
howling.  The  inhabitants  on  the  borders  of 
Baikal,  also  state,  that  they  have  often  heard 
dreadful  and  terrific  bowlings  proceed  from 
that  lake.t  The  lake,  Agnano,  in  Italy, 
sometimes,  especially  when  the  waters   are 

*Cook's  Geography,  v.  2,  p.  250 — Also  Rees'  Cyclopedia, 
article  Lake.    tRees'  Cyclopedia,  article  Lake  Geneva, 


high,  appears  to  boil  at  its  borders.  This 
ebullition  is  supposed  to  be  occasioned  by 
some  gaseous  fluids,  discharged  into  the  bot- 
tom, which  traverse  the  waters  of  the  lake.* 
These  various  phenomena,  which  cannot  be 
easily  accounted  for,  might  be  best  explained 
perhaps,  on  the  principles  oi  mid-f  lane-spaces. 
In  various  parts  of  the  north,  thick  strata  of 
ice  are  found,  under  a  thick  soil;  and  on  ice- 
bergs, floating  in  the  ocean,  have  been  discov- 
ered masses  of  earth,  of  granite,  and  of  other 

On  the  shores  of  Greenland  the  ebb  tide 
flows  towards  the  coast,  apparently  as  though 
it  passes  under  the  land,  and  the  flood  tide 
recedes  from  the  shore;  and  in  those  regions 
the  sea  is  almost  universally  found  deeper  as 
you  approach  the  shore.J  When  the  whales 
become  scarce,  experience  has  taught  the 
whalers  to  seek  for  them  near  the  shore,  as 
if  at  certain  seasons  they  retired  to  it,  and 
then  disappeared.  Captain  Symmes  ima- 
gines that  the  sea  extends  quite  through  the 
spheres,  about  Greenland,  and  that  the 
whales  suddenly  migrate  either  to  the  mid- 

*  Rees'  Cyclopedia,  article  Lake,  t  Ross' Voyage,  t, 
l,p.  225.     Ubid,  V.  1,  p.  144. 


plane-space,  or  to  the  seas  on  the  opposite 
side ;  which  he  alleges  to  be  the  case  with  sev- 
eral other  species  of  fish,  as  well  as  seals ;  all 
of  which,  he  supposes,  breed  in  the  mid-plane- 
space.  The  reasons  that  induce  him  to  adopt 
this  conclusion  are  various;  such  as,  that  fish 
have  been  thrown  up  by  the  eruption  of  a 
volcano  in  South  America* — herring  appear- 
ing in  such  immense  numbers  at  certain  sea- 
sons of  the  year — the  whales  seeming  to  pass 
under  Greenland — two  seals  having  been 
once  caught  in  Lake  Ontario,  which  is  said 
to  be  unfathomable,  although  this  lake  is 
many  degrees  south  of  where  the  seals  have 
ever  before  been  known  to  come— —and 
the  various  species  of  fish  in  our  northern 
lakes  which  appear  and  disappear  at  certain 
periods.  That  the  exterior  seas  in  some 
places  communicate  with  the  interior  seas, 
is  rendered  probable  by  various  other  circum- 
ces;  such  as  currents  running  continually 
into  the  Mediterranean,  and  no  visible  out- 
let to  the  water  thus  continually  flowing  in. 
It  is  scarcely  probable  that  evaporation  could 
carry  off  all  the  water  supplied  by  the  straits 
of  Gibraltar— the  white  sea  being  more  salt 

*  Humboldt. 


at  the  head  than  at  the  foot — the  tides  being 
higher  in  the  Baltic  than  the  Mediterranean 
— white  foxes  having  been  forced  up  by  the 
waters  of  the  sea  (as  Symmes  undertakes  to 
prove)  in  the  northern  regions — the  peculi- 
arities of  the  tremendous  whirlpool  on  the 
coast  of  Norway,  called  the  Maalstroom, 
which  sucks  in,  and  discharges  the  waters  of 
the  sea  with  great  violence — and  those  ob- 
servable in  the  Bay  of  Biscay,  which  are  said 
to  be  unfathomable. 



Several  objections,  made  to  the  Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres, 
answered,  particidarly  the  one  that  it  contravenes  religious 
opinions;  demonstrating  that  the  earth,  and  the  other  orbs 
of  the  universe,  are  formed  on  the  best  possible  plan  for 
the  maintainance  and  support  of  organic  life. 

SOME  of  the  most  prominent  objections 
which  1  have  heard  advanced  against  the 
theory  of  concentric  spheres  are  the  fol- 

1st.  That  if  the  earth  be  not  a  solid  globe, 
but  a  hollow  concentric  sphere,  the  quantity 
of  matter  being  diminished,  the  attraction  of 
gravitation  must  be  lessened  so  much  that  all 
moveable  bodies  resting  on  the  earth  would 
be  thrown  off  by  centrifugal  force,  in  the 
line  of  a  tangent  from  the  surface  of  the 

2d.  That  according  to  the  established  laws 
of  gravity,  a  hollow  sphere  could  not  exist  in 
nature:  that  matter  would  be  gravitated  to 
the  centre,  and  particularly  about  the  polar 
openings,  so  as  to  make  it  collapse. 

3d.  That  if  the  orbs  were  hollow  spheres, 
the  mutual  influence  of  the  planets  on  each 
other  would  be  so  far  destroyed,  that  they 
would  cease  to  revolve  in  regular  orbits. 


4th.  That  the  interior  of  the  sphere  can 
never  receive  the  light  and  heat  of  the  sun; 
is  involved  in  perpetual  darkness,  and  more 
suited  to  the  infliction  of  punishment  on  per- 
verse and  rebellious  spirits,  than  for  the  resi- 
dence of  beings,  fitted  and  designed  for  the 
pursuit  and  enjoyment  of  happiness. 

5th.  And  finally,  the  adherents  of  the  new 
theory  have  been  charged  with  atheism,  de- 
ism, and  such  like  epithets,  as  though  they 
intended  to  overturn  the  works  of  God,  and 
thwart  the  laws  of  nature. 

1st.  As  to  the  first  objection,  I  would  en- 
quire, has  it  yet  been  ascertained  with  math- 
ematical certainty,  in  what  exact  proportion 
one  particle  of  matter  attracts  another?  And 
may  there  not  be  some  law  of  nature  with 
which  we  are  not  yet  well  acquainted?  All 
the  experiments,  hitherto  made  on  the  attrac- 
tive power  of  gravity,  were  made  on  the 
principle,  and  under  the  belief,  that  the  earth 
is  a  solid  globe:  and  consequently  the  deduc- 
tions were  drawn  accordingly.  Suppose  the 
attraction  of  gravitation,  inherent  in  matter^ 
to  be  so  much  increased,  that  a  hollow  sphere 
would  possess  the  same  attractive  power,  as 
if  it  were  a  solid  globe,  would  not  all  the  re- 
sults and  consequences  be  exactly  the  same? 


This  being  the  case, — and  I  know  no  reason 
why  we  should  conclude  differently, — the 
whole  force  of  the  objection  appears  to  fall  to 
the  ground.  According  to  Newton's  principle 
of  gravity,  the  matter  of  the  sphere  would 
attract  all  particles  of  matter  placed  on  the 
surface,  as  well  upon  the  concave  as  convex, 
in  nearly  equal  proportions ;  and  the  centrif- 
ugal force,  which,  on  the  outer  side  of  the 
sphere,  tends  to  throw  bodies  off,  on  the  con- 
cave side,  would  have  an  opposite  effect. 
Hence,  a  person  standing,  or  trees  growing,  on 
the  interior  surface,  would  be  in  no  more  dan- 
ger of  being  precipitated  to  the  next  sphere, 
between  them  and  the  centre,  than  those  on 
the  outer  part  of  the  sphere,  when  they  should 
be  turned  (what  is  familiarly  called)  down. 

The  experiments  made  on  the  density  of 
the  globe,  by  observations  with  the  plum-line, 
at  the  foot  of  a  mountain,  are  very  ingenious; 
but  they  must  be  subject  to  great  uncertainty. 
The  true  deviation  of  the  plum-line,  the  ex- 
act quantity  of  matter  in  the  mountain,  or, 
indeed,  the  quantity  of  matter  between  the 
plumet  and  the  centre  of  gravity,  are  points 
difficult,  if  not  impossible,  to  be  ascertained 
with  mathematical  precision. 



If  the  attraction  of  the  sun  is  just  sufficient 
to  keep  the  earth  in  its  orbit,  what  can  give 
the  tendency  to  retain  Jupiter  and  Saturn  in 
theirs,  each  of  which,  if  solid,  contains  such 
a  vast  quantity  more  than  the  earth,  and 
removed  to  so  great  a  distance  from  the  sun, 
that  his  influence  upon  either  must  be  greatly 
lessened  by  both? 

2d.  As  to  the  objections  that  a  hollow 
sphere  of  the  dimension  of  the  earth  cannot 
exist  in  nature,  1  can  discover  no  sound  rea- 
son to  warrant  such  a  conclusion.  Many 
hollow  cylinders  and  spherical  figures,  we 
know  do  exist  on  the  surface  of  the  earth; 
and  notwithstanding  their  own  gravity,  which 
the  different  parts  exert  on  each  other,  as 
well  as  the  gravity  of  the  earth,  they  retain 
their  shape  and  position  ;  and  had  the  matter 
in  the  earth  originally  been  thrown  by  a  cen- 
trifugal force  into  the  form  of  a  hollow  sphere, 
or  had  the  first  creating  power  originally 
given  it  that  shape,— I  can  discover  no  good 
reason  for  a  change ;  neither  should  I  enter- 
tain any  apprehensions  of  the  particles  of 
matter  coalescing  at  the  centre. 

3d.  The  force  of  this  objection  I  cannot 
appreciate  -,  for  if  all  the  planetary  orbs  in 
the  universe  are  composed  of  hollow  concen- 


trie  spheres,  they  must  exert  the  same  rela- 
tive influence  on  each  other,  which  they 
would  if  they  were  solid  orbs,  as  they  would 
each  contain  the  same  proportion  of  matter 
as  respects  each  other.  Hence  no  good 
reason  appears  why  a  system  of  hollow  con- 
centric spheres  might  not  do  just  as  well, 
and  perform  their  revolutions  with  the  same 
regularity,  as  a  system  of  solid  ones. 

4th.  This  great  and  alarming  objection 
comes  next: — that  we  are  about  placing  a 
world  in  eternal  darkness,  cut  off  from  all 
the  comforts  and  pleasures  of  refined  life,  for 
the  enjoyment  of  which  we  are  so  eminently 
qualified.  Let  us  examine  the  force  of  this 
objection;  and  if  we  cannot  show  that  the 
interior  is,  at  least  in  some  degree,  illumina- 
ted, we  must  then  conclude  that  it  is  a  very 
dreary  abode,  and  unfitted  for  the  residence 
of  beings  so  fond  of  light  as  we  profess  to  be. 

According  to  the  new  theory,  the  northern 
polar  opening  is  about  four  thousand  one  hun- 
dred and  fifty  miles  in  diameter,  and  the  axis 
of  the  earth  is  at  an  angle  of  about  twelve  de- 
grees with  the  axis  of  the  plane  of  the  polar 
opening;  consequently,  as  the  sphere  revolves 
on  its  axis,  one  side  of  the  verge  of  the  polar 
opening    will    extend    considerably    further 


north  than  the  other.     The  verge  of  the  north 

polar  opening  on  the  low  side,  is  laid  down 

at   about  fifty  degrees  of  latitude,  and  the 

verge    of  the   high  side  at  about  sixty-eight 


Now,  supposing  the  sun  to  be  exactly  of  the 
same  diameter  as  the  earth,  and  placed  di- 
rectly over  the  equator,  when  the  low  side  of 
the  verge  was  turned  towards  the  sun,  the 
direct  rays  from,  his  northern  limb,  independ- 
ent of  refraction,  would  pass  the  edge  of  the 
lower  part  of  the  verge,  and  fall  on  the  inner 
part  of  the  sphere,  on  the  concave  part  of 
the  high  side  opposite,  as  far  as  eighteen  de- 
grees, or  upwards.  When  the  sun  would  be 
on  the  tropic  of  Cancer,  in  June,  he  must  then 
throw  the  rays  from  his  centre  twenty-three 
and  a  half  degrees  further  within  the  sphere, 
or  within  twenty-six  and  a  half  degrees  of  the 
equator ;  but  the  diameter  of  the  sun  being  so 
much  greater  than  the  earth,  the  rays  from 
his  northern  limb,  would  fall  about  thirty- 
three  minutes  further  within  the  sphere,  and 
leave  not  quite  twenty-six  degrees  between 
that  and  the  equator  to  be  excluded  from  his 
direct  rays.  This  relates  to  the  northern 
polar  opening;  as  to  that  of  the  south,  which 
is  believed  to  be  much  larger,  we  will  make 


a  few  remarks.  The  lower  side  of  the  south 
polar  opening,  is  laid  in  about  latitude  thir- 
ty-four degrees,  and  the  higher  side,  in  about 
latitude  forty-six  degrees.  Were  the  sun  of 
the  same  diameter  with  the  earth,  as  above 
premised,  and  placed  on  the  equator,  his  di- 
rect  rays  would  be  thrown  into  the  south 
polar  opening  when  the  low  side  was  towards 
him,  about  twelve  degrees,  or  to  within  thir- 
ty-four degrees  of  the  equator,  and  when  on 
the  tropic  of  Capricorn,  in  December,  twen- 
ty-three and  a  half  degrees  further,  that  is, 
the  inner  part  of  the  southern  hemisphere  of 
the  sphere,  on  the  high  side,  would  be  lighted 
thirty-five  and  a  half  degrees  within  the 
verge  J  and  the  direct  rays  of  the  sun  would 
shine  within  ten  and  a  half  degrees  of  the 
inner  centre  of  the  sphere  or  equator.  These 
observations,  you  will  observe,  are  made  in 
the  most  unfavourable  point  of  view.  It  is 
well  known,  that  the  diameter  of  the  sun,  is 
vastly  greater  than  that  of  the  earth ;  conse- 
quently, his  rays  would  pass  into  the  polar 
opening  so  much  further,  in  proportion  as  the 
angle  of  his  diameter,  and  that  of  the  earth, 
differ,  which  would  be  about  thirty-three 
minutes  further,  bringing  his  direct  rays  in 
the  south,  within  less  than  ten  degrees  of  the 


equator;  and  this  would  be  the  case  as  the 
sphere  revolved  on  its  axis,  once  in  every 
twenty-four  hours.  When  the  sphere  turned, 
with  its  high  side  towards  the  sun,  it  would 
be  night,  or  twilight,  and  when  the  low  side 
was  next  the  sun,  it  would  be  day;  at  all 
events,  the  direct  rays  of  the  sun  would  fall  on 
a  space  of  about  thirty-six  and  a  half  degrees 
in  breadth;  the  reflection  from  which  would 
light  the  whole  of  the  remaining  portion  of 
the  inner  part  of  the  sphere,  to  a  greater 
degree,  than  any  moon-light  with  which  we 
are  acquainted.  But  there  is  another  cir- 
cumstance which  tends  to  throw  the  rays  of 
the  sun  much  further  into  the  concave  than 
we  have  yet  got  them ;  that  is,  the  refractive 
power  of  the  atmosphere.  It  is  a  well  known 
fact  that  the  rays  of  light  are  very  much  re- 
fracted when  passing  out  of  a  rare  into  a 
denser  medium;  and  about  the  poles  of  the 
earth  it  is  believed,  (and  this  belief  is  con- 
firmed by  navigators)  that  refraction  increas- 
es very  considerably,  owing  to  (he  great 
density  of  the  atmosphere.  We  have  good 
reason  then  to  believe  that  refraction  throws 
the  rays  of  the  sun  several  degrees  further 
within  the  sphere.  But  let  us  take  the  known 
refraction  of  the  horizontal  ray,  at  or  near 


the    equator  (say   one  half  of  a  degree)  it 
would  throw  the  rays  of  light  so  much  fur- 
ther into  the  concave,  and   not  leave  quite 
thirty-seven    degrees   in   the   centre    of  the 
sphere  deprived  of  the  sun's  rays.     The  mo- 
tion of  the  earth  causes  the  apparent  motion 
of  the  sun  to  be  about  fifteen  degrees  in  an 
hour,  as  the  diurnal  revolution  of  the  earth 
causes  the  sun  to  move  apparently  through 
three  hundred  and  sixty  degrees  in  twenty- 
four  hours.     Now  it  is  a  well  known  fact  to 
all  that  the  sun  gives  us  light  sufficient  to  be 
called  day-light,  for  about  an  hour  after  he 
descends  below  the  horizon  ;  consequently  he 
must  afford  us  light  when  he  is  fifteen  degrees 
obscured   from  our  view.     Accordingly,  the 
sun,  though  he  might  not  be  visible,  would 
illuminate  the  concave  part  of  the  sphere  fif- 
teen degrees  further  than  his  direct  rays  fall, 
which  reduces  the  space  in  the  interior  of  the 
sphere  to  the  breadth  of  not  quite  seven  de- 
grees which  would  still  remain  unlighted. 

But  this  is  making  calculations  on  the 
most  unfavorable  premises  possible.  Consi- 
dering the  form  of  the  earth,  and  the  powef 
of  refraction,  1  have  no  doubt  but  the  direct 
rays  of  the  Sun  would  fall  on  every  part  of 
the  inner  sphere.     However,  I  have  proceed- 


ed  on  such  premises  as,  I  conclude,  the  most 
sceptical  must  admit.  Light,  we  know,  is 
reflected  from  solid  bodies  on  which  it  falls, 
and  also  from  the  atmosphere;  the  rays  of 
the  sun,  then,  which  would  pass  the  lower 
part  of  the  verge  and  fall  on  the  opposite 
concave  surface,  would  be  reflected  back  in 
all  directions,  and  most  probably  light  the 
whole  of  the  interior  of  the  sphere  sufficient 
for  the  ordinary  purposes  of  life.  By  way  of 
further  illustration,  suppose  a  perpendicular 
wall  were  raised  on  a  plain,  one  mile  high, 
does  any  person  believe  that  there  would  be 
no  light  on  the  side  of  the  wall  opposite  to 
the  sun;  although  his  rays  would  have  to 
form  an  angle  of  one  hundred  and  forty,  or 
one  hundred  and  fifty  degrees,  to  reach  the 
earth  on  that  side  of  the  wall?  No  axiom 
is  more  evident  than  that  the  rays  of  light 
are  communicated  to  other  places  than  those 
on  which  the  rays  of  the  sun  fall  directly;  for 
example,  we  all  know  that  a  close  room, 
however  large,  with  a  north  window,  will  be 
sufficiently  lighted  by  refraction  and  reflec- 
tion from  the  atmosphere,  provided  there  is 
no  obstruction  opposite  the  window,  although 
the  rays  of  the  sun  would  have  to  form  an 
angle  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  degrees  to 


enter  it,  and  why  might  not  the  whole  inte- 
rior of  the  sphere  be  lighted  in  the  same 
manner,  even  supposing  the  rays  of  the  sun 
should  never  enter  directly.  The  north  polar 
opening  being  about  four  thousand  one  hun- 
dred and  fifty  miles  in  diameter,  and  the 
southern  six  thousand  three  hundred  and  fifty, 
with  the  whole  force  of  the  direct  rays  of  the 
sua  falling  on  and  passing  through  the  atmos- 
phere a.  either  polar  opening,  it  would  not 
require  refraction,  or  reflection,  to  make  an 
angle  of  ninety  degrees  to  light  the  whole  of 
the  interior  concave;  and  certainly  the  polar 
openings  are  sufficiently  large  for  the  purpose, 
when  we  compare  a  common  window  with 
the  dimensions  of  an  ordinary  sized  room. 

It  is  believed,  by  the  adherents  of  the 
new  theory,  that  the  atmosphere,  within  the 
concave,  and  about  the  polar  openings,  is 
much  denser  than  our  atmosphere;  which 
appears  inevitably  to  be  the  case,  as  the 
centrifugal  force  on  the  convex  has  the  ten- 
dency to  throw  the  atmosphereyrom  the  sur- 
face, and  on  the  concave  to  force  it  from  the 
centre  of  motion,  and  nearer  to  the  surface. 
This  admitted,  the  rays  of  the  sun  passing 
out  of  a  rare  medium  into  a  denser,  would  be 
refracted  much  further  into  the  sphere;  and 


the  sun-shine  on  the  surface  of  one  sphere 
would  be  reflected  obliquely,  according  to 
the  angle  of  incidence,  to  the  next  sphere, 
and  in  this  manner  might  be  extended  even 
beyond  the  centre  of  the  concave.  It  is  also 
believed,  that  near  the  verges  of  the  polar 
openings,  and  perhaps  in  many  other  parts  of 
the  unfathomable  ocean,  the  spheres  are  wa- 
ter quite  through,  (at  least  all  except  the 
mid-plane-spaces ^  or  cavities)  which  bving  the 
case,  light  would  probably  be  transmitted 
between  the  spheres. 

The  apparent  elevation  of  celestial  bodies 
above  their  true  altitude,  is  greatest  when  the 
body  is  on  the  horizon,  which  is  ascertained 
to  be  a  little  more  than  half  a  degree ;  hence, 
in  our  climate,  the  sun  appears  three  minutes 
sooner,  and  sets  three  minutes  later  than  is 
really  the  case,  which  increases  the  length 
of  our  day  six  minutes,  by  refraction.  This 
gradually  increases  in  proceeding  from  the 
equator  to  the  frigid  zones;  and  at  the  poles, 
were  the  earth  entire,  the  day  should  become 
thirty-six  hours  longer,  by  refraction  alone, 
than  it  would  otherwise  be.*  It  was  doubt- 
less owing  to  some  peculiar  refractive  power 

*  Physical  World,  p.  105. 


in  the  northern  regions,  that  caused  the 
Dutch,  who  wintered  on  Nova-Zembla,  (which 
is  in  latitude  between  seventy  and  seventy- 
eight  degrees,)  on  the  approach  of  summer,  to 
see  the  sun  about  two  weeks  sooner  than  he 
should  have  appeared  in  that  latitude,  ac- 
cording to  astronomical  calculation.*  This 
tends  to  show  that  there  is  more  refraction 
in  the  northern  regions  than  is  observable 
in  the  south.t 

From  an  attentive  examination  of  these 
considerations,  I  am  induced  to  conclude, 
that  the  interior  of  the  sphere  may  be  as  well 
lighted   as  the   exterior;  or  at  all  events,  if 

*  Barrington  and  Beaufoy,  p.  106,  and  Purchas,  v.  3, 
pp.  499,  500. 

t  The  late  George  Adams,  in  his  Philosoph}',  treating  of 
refraction ,  states,  that  "  at  the  horizon,  in  this  climate, 
(England)  it  is  found  to  be  about  thirty-three  minutes.  In 
climates  near  the  equator,  where  the  air  is  pure,  the  re- 
fraction is  less;  and  in  the  colder  climates,  nearer  the 
pole,  it  increases  exceedingly,  and  is  a  happy  provision 
for  lengthening  the  appearance  of  the  light  at  those  re- 
gions so  remote  from  the  sun.  Gassendees  relates,  that 
some  Hollanders,  who  wintered  in  Nova-Zembla,  in  lati- 
tude seveqtyrfive  degrees,  were  agreeably  surprised  with 
a  sight  of  the  sun  seventeen  days  before  they  expected 
him  in  the  horizon.  This  difference  was  owing  to  the  re- 
fraction of  the  atmosphere  in  that  latitude." — Adams'  Phi^ 
losophy,  V.  4,  p.  112,  Philadelphia,  1807. 


not  favoured  with  so  great  a  degree  of  light 
at  all  times,  it  has  a  more  regular  and  con- 
stant supply.  But,  admitting  every  thing  on 
this  subject  that  the  opponents  of  the  theory 
can  suggest,  I  still  discover  no  substantial 
reason  why  the  earth  may  not  be  a  hollow 
sphere.  1  can  see  no  substantial  reason  why 
the  inhabitants  of  that  portion  of  the  earth, 
(if  any  exist  there)  should  be  furnished  with  as 
great  a  degree  of  light,  and  as  intense  a  heat, 
as  we  have  upon  the  convex  part  of  the 
sphere.  Must  it  of  necessity  follow,  that  it 
cannot  be  inhabited,  or  if  inhabited,  that  the 
beings  who  people  its  surface,  are  less  happy 
than  we?  Certainly  not.  Is  it  not  well  known 
to  us,  that  every  grade  and  species  of  ani- 
mals, under  every  variety  of  circumstance, 
whether  inhabiting  the  air,  the  earth,  or  the 
water,  are  fitted  by  an  all-wise  Providence 
to  their  several  conditions,  and  mediums,  in 
which  they  reside?  As  well  might  we  con- 
clude, that  the  immense  planet  Jupiter,  situ- 
ated so  far  from  the  sun  as  he  is,  can  be 
nothing  but  a  dark,  cold,  and  barren  waste, 
unfitted  for  the  residence  of  intelligent  beings. 
It  is  ascertained  by  calculation,  that  the 
light  and  heat  which  Jupiter  receives  from 
the  sun,  is  only  the  one  twenty-seventh  part 


of  what  the  earth  receives  *  The  light  and 
heat  which  Saturn  receives  from  the  sun  is 
estimated  at  only  the  one  hundredth  part  of 
that  of  the  earth  ;t  and  the  planet  Georgium 
Sidus,  revolving  such  an  immense  distance 
further  from  the  sun,  than  either  of  them, 
must  enjoy  still  less  light  and  heat;  accord- 
ing to  which,  we  would  conclude,  (if  we  adopt 
the  belief,  that  the  degree  of  light  and  heat, 
to  which  we  are  accustomed,  is  necessary  for 
the  support  of  life,)  that  those  vast  planets 
are  not  fitted  by  the  God  of  nature  for  the 
residence  of  intelligent  beings;  however,  I 
am  inclined  to  believe  that  both  light  and 
heat  are  communicated  to  them,  in  some  way 
not  well  known  to  us,  sufficient  for  the  pur- 
pose. The  true  principles  of  light  and  heat, 
and  the  manner  in  which  they  are  generated 
and  transmitted,  are  not  perhaps  yet  well  un- 
derstood and  defined.^ 

*  Keith  on  Globes,  p.  144.— t  Ibid,  p.  149. 

}Sir  Isaac  Newton,  in  his  Principia,  underprop.  16, 
book  3,  lays  down  the  following  proposition,  viz:  that 
^'^  the  heat  of  the  sun  is  as  the  density  of  his  rays,  that  is 
reciprocally  as  the  squares  of  the  distances  from  the  sunP^ 
From  this  principle,  it  has  been  assumed  by  some  of  our 
modern  astronomers,  that  but  few  of  the  planets  can  be 
inhabited,  as  if  the  effect  of  light  and  heat  are  reciprocally 
proportionate  to  the  squares  of  the  distances  from  the 


5th.  Others,  when  the  new  theory  is  men- 
tioned, cry  Atheist,  Deist,  blasphemy !  as  if 
its  advocates  proposed  to  make  a  new  world, 
and  support  it  without  the  intervention  of 
Divine  Providence:  such  opponents  scarcely 

centre  of  their  propagation;  and  if  you  divide  the  square 
of  the  earth's  distance  from  the  sun,  the  quotient  will 
show,  that  the  light  and  heat,  which  Mercury  receives, 
are  about  seven  times  greater,  making  it  more  than  twice 
as  hot  as  boiling  water.  The  light  and  heat  communica- 
ted to  Saturn,  being  only  the  one  hundredth  part  of  that 
ot  the  earth,  the  difference  is  more  than  seven  times  as 
great  as  that  between  our  summer  heat  and  red  hot  iron^ 
if  the  light  and  heat  of  the  sun  are  only  in  proportion  to 
the  density  of  his  rays.  Such  extremes  of  heat  and  cold, 
we  would  naturally  conclude  must  totally  preclude  all 
material  being,  if  in  the  least  degree  resembling  those  we 
are  acquainted  with;  nor  could  any  of  the  vegetable  world, 
known  to  us,  germinate  in  either  extreme;  nay,  even  the 
matter  of  our  globe  would  scarcely  withstand  it,  our 
oceans  would  be  dissipated  in  vapour,  on  Mercury,  and 
frozen  to  the  bottom  on  Saturn,  Considerations  like 
these  must  induce  us  to  conclude,  that  light  and  heat  can- 
not be  communicated  exactly  on  the  plan  laid  down  by 
Newton,  viz:  that  the  heat  of  the  sun  is  simply  as  the 
density  of  his  rays:  for  though  the  sunn's  rays  may  be  the 
sine  qua  non,  without  which  no  light  or  heat  would  be 
communicated,  yet  the  quantmn  of  heat  may  depend  on 
the  density  and  co-operation  of  the  medium  through 
which  it  passes,  or  upon  some  other  circumstance  not 
known  to  us,  and  perhaps  impossible  for  us  to  know. 


deserve  an  answer.  It  is  believed  by  all, 
that  the  earth,  the  sun,  the  moon  and  stars, 
are  the  work  of  an  Almighty  power.  Wheth- 
er solid  globes  or  hollow  spheres,  they  equal- 
ly owe  their  existence  to  the  great  first  cause, 
that  spoke  matter  into  existence,  that  ar- 
ranged it  in  whatever  form  and  order  infinite 
wisdom  dictated  ;  and  that  still  supports  and 
governs  the  whole  by  universal  and  unvary- 
ing laws.  But  it  is  as  well  known,  that  the 
Almighty  Disposer,  interposes  no  miracles 
for  the  accomplishment  of  his  designs,  but 
makes  use  of  means  that  are  uniform  in  their 
application,  to  effect  the  intended  purpose; 
hence  Geologists,  Philosophers,  and  Astron- 
omers, attempt  to  account  for  the  exisipnce 
of  all  matter,  and  for  the  formation  of  plan- 
ets, according  to  what  is  believed  to  be  the 
established  laws  of  matter.  In  so  doing, 
we  do  not  disparage  the  wisdom  of  the 
Creator,  nor  controvert  the  truth  of  that  di- 
vine record,  which  Providence,  in  his  good- 
ness, has  given  us  for  our  rule  of  life.  True 
it  is,  the  sacred  scriptures  give  us  very  little 
information  relative  to  the  structure  and  for- 
mation of  the  earth  and  the  other  planets 
They  were  not  intended  to  teach  mankind 
Geology,    Geogrophy,    or    Astronomy;    yet 


where  assertions  are  clearly  and  distinctly 
made  respecting  these  things,  we  have  rea- 
son to  believe  them  literally  correct:  as  for 
instance,  when  the  Psalmist  informs  us,  that 
God  hung  the  earth  upon  nothing;  that  He 
balanced  it  in  empty  space,  we  are  to  look 
for  corresponding  facts;  though  it  was  at 
variance  with  the  opinion  of  the  world  at 
that  time,  modern  astronomy  now  teaches 
that  such  is  the  fact.  In  like  manner,  when 
v/e  meet  with  assertions,  such  as  that  "the 
fountains  of  the  great  deep  were  broken  up, 
Onni  Ipin  nn^n  yiNm,  Genesis,  chapter  1, 
verse  2,*)  we  must  acknowledge  their  cor- 
rectness; and  I  think  it  will  be  admitted^ 
that  they  are  at  least  as  much  in  favour  of 
this  new  theory  as  the  old. 

*  I  am  indebted  to  an  excellent  Hebrew  scholar  for  the 

Note.  The  words  IH^I  IJlil  Theoo  and  Beoo,  (Gene- 
sis, chapter  1,  verse  2,)  which  has  been  rendered  by  the 
translators  of  our  bible,  "  Without  form  and  void,''  might 
perhaps,  with  equal  propriety,  have  been  translated 
"  without  form  and  hollow." 

1.  Theoo,  the  root,  agreeably  to  the  Hebrew  grammar, 
is  found  as  a  noun  fljl  or  TltlH  The  or  Thee,  and, is  ren- 
dered confusion,  loose,  unconnected,  without  form,  order, 
or  the  like;  and  so  well  understood. 


The  skilful  and  attentive  observer  of  na- 
ture, whether  examining  the  most  minute  or 
the  most  sublime,  will  discover  that  infinite 
wisdom,  judgment,  and  ingenuity,  equally 
prevail  throughout.  The  principal  aims  of 
the  great  author  of  all  things,  appear  to  have 
been  animation,    diversity,  and    usefulness; 

2.  Be-oo,  the  root,  is,  according  to  the  same  rule,  found  in 
^T]~Be,  (Bethhey)  hollow;  it  occurs  not  only  in  this  form 

1.  As  a  noun  lll^  Beoo — Hollow,  empty,  having 
nothing  in  it  but  air,  filled  only  vacuo  acre,  with  empty  air, 
as  Lucan  calls  it,  Lib.  5,  line  94. 

2.  As  a  noun  fern:  in  reg:  H^l  T^n^  Bet,  Bethoin, 
the  apparent  hollow,  or  pupil  of  the  eye,  &c.  Comp.  jn^T 
Bebath,  under,  ^^  Beb. 

3.  Asanounfem:  H^n  T/ie^-e  inReg:  jH^ll  Thebeth, 
an  ark,  a  hollow  vessel,  under  2d  head  of  '2^  Beb.  occurs 
not  as  a  verb  in  kab,  but 

1.  As  a  participial  noun,  or  participle  in  Nipth  ^1^^ 
Neboob,hollow,  made  hollow,  &;c. 

2.  It  is  applied  spiritually,  hollow,  empty,  vain. 

3.  To  the  sight,  or  pupil  of  the  eye;  that  part  of  the  eye 
which  appears  hollow,  and  admits  the  light.  See  Park- 
hursfs  Hebrew  Lexicon. 

Had  the  learned  translators  of  our  bible  possessed  a 
knowledge  of  the  theory  of  concentric  spheres,  it  is  proba- 
ble they  would  have  given  the  English  reader  the  most 
correct  meaning  of  the  words,  iH^I  inH  "  without  form 
and  hollow,^''  or  "  shapeless  and  hollow.^'' 


the  air  we  breathe,  the  water  we  drink,  the 
vegetables  on  which  we  feed;  indeed  every 
leaf  and  plant  of  the  forest  and  field — all 
teem  with  animallife.  Why  then  should  we 
believe,  or  even  presume  to  think,  that  the 
Almighty  Fiat,  which  spoke  matter  into  ex- 
istence, for  the  support  and  maintenance  of 
living  creatures,  innumerable,  and  endless  in 
the  variety  of  their  organization,  their  colours, 
their  passions,  and  their  pursuits — why,  I  say, 
should  we  then  presume,  that  the  omnifick 
word  would  create  even  the  smallest  parti- 
cle of  any  of  the  immense,  the  innumerable 
orbs  in  the  universe,  of  inert  or  useless  mat- 
ter, devoid  of  activity  and  design?  This 
earth,  when  compared  with  the  magnitude 
and  number  of  other  planets  we  know,  is  but 
as  a  point;  yet  we  can  hardly  conceive, 
small  as  she  appears  by  comparison,  that 
she  was  only  designed  to  have  animate  life 
on  her  surface,  and  all  the  rest  to  remain 
useless!  Such  an  idea  seems  unworthy  of 
the  Divine  Being,  whose  essence  is  all  per- 
fection. Can  we  for  a  moment  suppose,  that 
the  interior  parts  of  the  earth,  have  received 
less  attention  from  the  Creator,  than  the 
objects  which  are  under  our  immediate  in- 
spection?    On  the  contrary,  may  it  not  be 


more  rationally  inferred,  that,  for  the  object 
of  more  widely  disseminating  animation, 
spheres  are  formed  within  spheres,  concen- 
tric with  each  other,  each  revolving  on  its 
own  axis,  and  thus  multiplying  the  habitable 

Great  and  sublime  as  our  conceptions  of 
the  Deity  must  be,  when  we  contemplate  the 
earth  and  its  inhabitants — if  we  turn  our  at- 
tention to  the  solar  system,  our  world  dwin- 
dles into  a  little  insignificant  ball.  Yet  if  we 
cast  our  eyes  still  beyond,  and  contemplate 
the  eighty  millions  of  fixed  stars,  which  a 
good  telescope  brings  to  our  view,  each  the 
centre  of  a  mighty  system  of  revolving  worlds ; 
and  then  reflect  that  all  this  is  only  one  little 
dark  corner  of  creation,  we  are  lost  in  the 
magnitude  of  the  contemplation.  But  when 
we  come  to  consider  each  of  these  fixed 
stars,  with  their  planets,  and  they  with  their 
satellites,  all  consisting  of  concentric  spheres^ 
revolving  within  each  other,  in  due  order,  and 
adapted  to  the  support  and  comforts  of  life, 
for  countless  millions  of  beings;  we  are  struck 
with  ten-fold  astonishment  and  admiration, 
and  bow  with  reverential  awe,  before  Him 
who  sits  at  the  head  of  the  universe,  and 
governs   the  whole  by  unvarying  laws.    It 


would  seem  to  me,  that  in  contemplating  this 
new  order  of  creation,  the  imagination  must 
break  through  and  soar  beyond  its  old  boun- 
daries. It  would  seem  that  on  embracing 
this  doctrine,  the  spirit  must  expand  with  in- 
creased devotion,  and  be  entirely  absorbed 
in  the  infinite  wisdom  and  power  of  Him,  who 
was  competent  to  devise,  and  able  to  execute, 
such  a  beautiful  arrangement  of  matter. 



General  observations  on  the  Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres, 
with  a  Jew  suggestions  to  the  Congress  of  the  United 
States,  to  authorize  and  ft  out  an  Expedition  for  the  dis- 
covery of  the  Interior  Regions;  or,  at  least,  to  explore  the 
northern  parts  of  the  continent  of  America. 

OF  the  many  various  and  conflicting  theo- 
ries which  have  been  advanced,  relative  to 
the  form,  structure,  and  motion  of  the  earth, 
the  theory  of  Concentric  Spheres  deserves  to 
rank  as  one  of  the  most  important:  for,  should 
it  hereafter  be  found  correct,  the  advantages 
resulting  to  the  civilized  and  learned  world, 
must  cause  it  to  stand  pre-eminent  among 
the  improvements  in  philosophy.  The  habit- 
able superfices  of  our  sphere  would  not  only 
be  nearly  doubled  ;  but  the  different  spheres 
of  which  our  earth  is  probably  constituted, 
might  increase  the  habitable  surface  ten-fold. 

That  such  may  be  the  construction  of  the 
earth,  every  law  of  matter  with  which  1  am 
acquainted,  seems  to  admit,  at  least  of  the 
possibility;  the  diiferent  appearances  of  the 
other  planets  render  it  probable;  and  the 
various  concurring  terrestrial  facts  existing 
in  the  arctic  regions,  to  my  mind,  render  such 
a  conclusion  almost  certain.     And  further, 


that  matter  and  space  arc  never  uselessly 
wasted,  is  an  axiom,  not  only  of  sound  phi- 
losophy, but  of  natural  religion,  and  of  com- 
mon sense. 

Many  of  the  theories  which  have  been  ad- 
vanced respecting  the  earth,  are  vague  and 
uncertain,  and  will  remain  so  forever;  being 
predicated  on  deductions  drawn  from  certain 
premises  that  can  never  be  established  with 
certainty ;  consequently  they  must  rest  wholly 
on  the  strength  of  the  arguments  drawn  from 
the  premises,  as  they  are  not  susceptible  of 
being  demonstrated  by  experiment.  Not  so 
with  the  theory  of  concentric  spheres.  Its 
correctness  admits  of  occular  demonstration. 
The  interior  of  the  sphere  is  declared  acces- 
sible, and  the  whole  extent  capable  of  being 
accurately  explored;  thereby  establishing 
the  theory,  or  disproving  and  putting  it  at 
rest  forever. 

The  celebrated  Dr.  Hall ey,  in  the  year 
1692,  in  his  attempt  to  account  for  the  change 
of  the  variation  of  the  magnetic  needle, 
advanced  a  novel  hypothesis,  as  respects  the 
internal  structure  of  the  earth.  He  supposes 
that  there  is  an  interior  globe,  separated  from 
the  external  sphere  by  a  fluid  medium;  or 
that  there  may  be  several  internal  spheres, 


separated  from  each  other  by  atmospheres, 
and  that  the  concave  arches  may  in  several 
places  shine  with  a  substance  similar  to  that 
which  invests  the  body  of  the  sun,  producing 
light  and  heat  for  the  accommodation  of 
those  internal  regions  which  he  alleges  may 
possibly  be  inhabited  by  animate  beings.* 
However,  he   suggests   no  idea  of  Polar 

*  The  application  which  the  Dr.  makes  of  this  struc- 
ture of  the  earth  is  this:  that  the  concave  sides  of  the 
spheres  are  made  up  of  magnetic  matter;  that  they  re- 
volve about  their  diurnal  axes  in  about  twenty-four  hours; 
that  the  outer  sphere  moves  either  a  little  faster  or  a  little 
slower  than  the  internal  ball;  that  the  magnetic  pole, 
both  of  the  external  shell  and  included  globe,  are  distant 
from  the  poles  of  rotation;  and  that  the  variation  arises 
from  a  change  of  the  relative  distances  of  the  external 
and  internal  poles  in  consequence  of  the  difference  of 
their  revolutions.     [See  life  of  Dr.  Halley.] 

In  Rees'  Cyclopedia,  under  the  article  '  ring,'  is  the 
following  sentence;  by  which  it  appears  that  Kepler  first 
suggested  the  earth  to  be  composed  of  concentric  crusts. 
"  Kepler,  in  his  Epitom.  Astron.  Copern.  (as  after  him 
Dr.  Halley,  in  his  enquiry  into  the  causes  of  the  variation 
of  the  needle,  Phil.  Trans.  No.  195.)  supposes  our  earth 
may  be  composed  of  several  crusts  or  shells^  one  within 
another,  and  concentric  to  each  other.  If  this  be  the 
case,  it  is  possible  the  ring  of  Saturn  may  be  the  fragment 
or  remaining  ruin  of  his  former  exterior  shell,  the  rest  of 
which  is  broken  or  fallen  down  upon  the  body  of  the 


Openings,  nor  of  any  communication  from  the 
outer  surface  to  those  interior  regions;  conse- 
quently their  existence  must  have  remained 
forever  a  matter  of  mere  conjecture. 

We  find  that  Dr.  Halley,  in  the  wisdom  of 
his  philosophy,believed  those  internal  regions 
to  be  lighted,  though  situated  many  thousand 
fathoms  beneath  the  surface,  and  without 
any  aperture  to  communicate  light  from  with- 
out. Why  not,  then,  believe  that  the  interior 
of  the  spheres,  according  to  Symmes's  theory, 
may  be  lighted,  when  he  lays  down  such  vast 
openings  at  either  pole  for  that  purpose? 

Euler  was  also  an  advocate  for  the  theory 
of  Dr.  Halley.  He  believed,  with  him,  that 
the  earth  is  hollow,  with  a  ball,  or  nucleus, 
included  in  the  centre;  he,  however,  differed 
from  Halley  as  to  the  nature  of  the  nucleus. 
Halley  believed  it  to  be  constituted  of  the 
same  materials  of  the  exterior  crust  of  the 
earth.  Euler  believed  it  to  be  a  luminous 
body  formed  of  materials  similar  to  the  sun, 
and  adapted  to  the  purpose  of  illuminating 
and  warming  the  interior  surface  of  the 
crust,  which  he  supposed  might  be  inhabited 
equally  with  the  exterior  surface.  He  fan- 
cied that  this  luminous  ball  had  no  rotary 
motion,  and  that  the  outer  shell  revolved 


around  it.  However,  neither  he  nor  Dr.  Hal- 
ley  left  any  opening  by  which  the  internal 
regions  could  be  explored;  their  existence 
was  therefore  left  to  rest  on  vague  hypo- 

These  different  theories,  however  extrava- 
gant they  may  appear  to  us,  were  believed 
and  supported  by  those  men,  whom  we  must 
acknowledge  were  among  the  most  learned 
of  the  age  in  which  they  lived ;  and  among 
the  mathematicians  in  Europe  they  have  yet 
some  warm  supporters.  Why  not  then  give 
Symmes's  theory  of  open  poles,  and  concentric 
spheres,  a  serious  investigation,  the  correct- 
ness of  which  is  so  much  more  probable,  and 
the  demonstration  of  its  truth  or  falsehood  so 
much  more  practicable?  At  all  events  a 
voyage  to  the  polar  regions,  with  an  eye  to  the 
accomplishment  of  Symmes's  purpose,  might 
be  productive  of  incalculable  advantages  to 
the  cause  of  science  in  general.  With  re- 
spect to  astronomy  and  geography,  it  would 
afford  many  new  lights,  and  perhaps  discover 

*Maclaurin,  in  his  fouiteenth  chapter  of  the  second 
volume  on  Fluxions,  investigates  the  theory  of  Dr.  Halley 
at  considerable  length;  and  in  conclusion,  appears  to  con- 
sider the  existence  of  a  hollow  globe  as  very  possible. 



and    establish    many    new    principles,    not 

thought  of  at  this  day. 

"  Knowledge  is  power,^''  and  so  far  as  an 
individual  acquires  a  knowledge  of  literature 
and  science,  above  his  cotemporaries,  so  far 
does  he  possess  a  power  and  influence  over 
those  among  whom  he  resides.  So  does  a 
nation,  when  she  becomes  characterized  for 
the  acquisition  of  knowledge  in  the  sciences 
and  the  arts.  Those  nations  which  have 
made  great  and  important  advances  in  the 
improvement  of  science,  or  in  new  discover- 
ies, have  acquired  a  pre-eminence  of  char- 
acter and  standing,  among  other  nations  of 
the  world. 

The  United  States  of  America,  having  as- 
sumed a  respectable  station  among  the  na- 
tions, is  fast  advancing  in  wealth  and  power. 
Her  territories  are  stretched  over  a  vast  ex- 
tent of  country ;  and  her  population  is  in- 
creasing with  a  rapidity  unprecedented.  We 
are  already  looked  up  to,  by  other  nations, 
as  a  people  of  very  considerable  importance; 
and  as  having  made  a  successful  experiment 
in  politics  and  government,  which  politicians 
had  before  considered  impracticable.  Ought 
we  not  then,  as  a  nation,  (paying  some  at- 
tention to  the  progress  of  science  and  knowl- 


edge,)  to  hold  oat  inducements  for  the  pro- 
gressive improvements,  and  useful  discoveries 
of  our  own  citizens? 

While  the  English,  the  Russians,  and  the 
French,  are  making  great  exertions  for  the 
purpose  of  discovery,  and  the  advancement 
of  science;  will  America  remain  idle  and 
inactive?  Will  she  adopt  the  unwise  policy 
that  individual  enterprise  ought  to  be  let 
alone?  Other  nations  act  differently;  and 
they  have  long  been  directing  their  researches 
towards  the  acquisition  of  a  more  perfect 
knowledge  of  our  globe:  and  such  exertions 
have  always  been  considered  as  the  most 
glorious  actions  on  record  in  the  annals  of 
their  history.  By  so  doing,  they  have  not 
only  baen  amply  rewarded  themselves,  but 
have  benefited  the  world  at  large,  by  the 
acquisition  of  important  information  respect- 
ing the  before  unknown  parts  of  it,  and  by 
the  improvement  of  science.  Will  America 
tiien  sit  by  inactive  and  contented,  while  she 
is  surrounded  with  plenty,  and  enjoying  a 
situation  most  enviable  in  the  career  of 
nations?  Let  us  rather  encourage  than 
shackle  the  genius  and  enterprising  spirit  of 
our  own  citizens;  and  not  act  like  an  avari- 
cious miser,  who  directs  all  his  thoughts  to 


the  calculation  of  dollars  and  cents.  Had 
this  "  let  alone  policy,"  been  pursued  by  the 
nations  that  have  sent  out  ships  of  discovery, 
what  would  have  been  the  situation  of  the 
world  at  the  present  day?  Bounds  would 
have  been  set  to  the  great  field  of  philosophy, 
and  the  arts  and  sciences  must  have  flourish- 
ed only  within  a  circumscribed  sphere.  In 
vain  might  the  revolving  planets  have  forced 
upon  the  minds  of  mankind  their  beautiful 
order,  motions  and  attractions; — the  exten- 
sive continent  of  America,  must  yet  have  re- 
mained a  gloomy  wilderness;  and  the  wild 
flowers  have  bloomed  upon  her  fertile  plains, 
only  to  be  crushed  by  the  foot  of  the  unlet- 
tered savage. 

If  we  take  a  retrospective  view  of  the 
world,  for  some  centuries  back,  we  shall  find 
the  knowledge  of  the  most  scientific  nations, 
bounded  by  a  circumference  of  two  or  three 
thousand  miles.  At  length  a  few  enter- 
prising individuals,  aided  by  their  govern- 
ments, made  extensive  discoveries: — A  Co- 
lumbus discovered  tlie  vast  continent  of 
America;  and  subsequent  navigatorsdiscover- 
ed  the  extensive  countries  of  New-Holland, 
New-Zealand,  and  numerous  islands  in  the 
Pacific  ocean  and  South  sea.     All  of  these 


now  disclose  to  us,  that  what  was  formerly 
believed  to  constitute  the  whole  habitable 
world,  is  but  a  spot,  one  little  corner,  in  the 
parts  known  at  this  day.  Even  yet,  a  vast 
portion  of  our  globe  remains  unexplored. 
Why  then  should  we  contribute  nothing  to- 
wards the  attainment  of  the  grand  pursuit 
of  nations?  We,  who  are  destined,  I  hope, 
one  day  to  stand  as  the  first  nation  under 
the  sun — Why  should  we  fold  our  arms 
and  sit  inactive,  while  that  little  spot  Great 
Britain,  is  making  such  efforts  to  explore 
those  regions? 

It  would  not  be  an  unwise  policy,  for  the 
American  government  to  foster  and  encour- 
age such  noble  workings  of  genius.  It  can 
in  no  way  be  inconsistent  with  the  present 
policy  of  our  government,  that  an  expedition 
should  be  fitted  out  to  explore  the  polar  re- 
gions ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  it  would  bespeak 
a  spirit  of  liberality,  and  a  desire  to  promote 
scientific  enterprize.  It  is  neither  against 
the  constitution  nor  laws  of  our  country;  we 
are  now  at  peace  with  the  world ;  taxes  are 
coit'paratively  trifling;  the  situation  of  our 
country  at  present  affords  a  most  favourable 
opportunity  for  the  accomplishment  of  the 
undertaking.  It  is  one  of  such  importance 


too,  as  will  justify  tlie  use  of  money  and  men  ; 
while  the  honour  of  the  discovery  of  a  New 
World  would  be  its  reward. 

1  apprehend  that  we  only  lack  confidence 
in  our  own  abilities,  to  perfect  and  explain 
many  things  not  dreamed  of  by  the  ancient 
philosophers.  We  are  inclined  rather  to  un- 
dervalue our  own  efforts;  and,  like  our  former 
opinions  on  manufacturing  subjects,  think  we 
can  never  appear  to  advantage,  unless  dress- 
ed in  a  coat  of  foreign  manufacture.  It  ap- 
pears to  savour  of  the  doctrine,  that  no  new 
opinion  or  proposition  can  merit  attention, 
or  be  adopted,  unless  it  come  from  a  Euro- 
pean source.  Had  the  proposition  of  con- 
centric spheres,  or  a  hollow  globe,  been 
made  by  an  English  or  French  philosopher, 
instead  of  a  native  of  the  United  States,  1 
very  much  question,  whether  so  large  a  share 
of  ridicule  would  have  been  attached  to  its 
author   and   adherents. 

It  may  be  replied,  that  the  idea  of  a 
world  within  a  world,  is  absurd.  But,  who 
can  assert  with  confidence,  that  this  idea 
is,  in  reality,  nothing  more  than  the  imagina- 
tion of  a  feverish  brain?  How  is  it  shown 
that  such  a  form  does  not  exist?  Are  there 
not  as  strong  reasons  for  believing  that  the 


earth  is  constituted  of  concentric  spheres, 
as  the  court  of  Spain,  or  any  man  in  Europe, 
had  to  believe  that  there  was  an  undiscov- 
ered continent 'r?  Has  not  Captain  Sy mines 
theoretically  proven  his  assertions  of  con- 
centric spheres  and  open  poles,  and  embodied 
a  catalogue  of  facts,  numerous  and  plausi- 
ble, ill  support  of  his  opinions?  And  who 
has  confuted  his  assertions?  I  dare  to  say, 
that  none  can  be  found,  who  can  fully  dis- 
prove them,  and  account  for  the  facts  which 
he  adduces  as  the  proofs  of  his  theory.  Is 
there  not  the  same  reason  to  believe,  that 
the  earth  is  hollow,  as  there  is  to  place  im- 
plicit confidence  in  the  opinion,  that  the 
planets  are  inhabited?  And  yet  the  one  has 
been  ridiculed  as  the  wild  speculations  of 
a  madman,  while  the  other  receives  credit 
among  the  most  enlightened. 

If  it  can  be  shown  that  Symmes's  Theory 
is  probable,  or  has  the  least  plausibility  at- 
tached to  it, — nay,  that  it  is  even  possible, — 
why  not  afford  him  the  means  of  testing  its 
correctness?  The  bare  possibility  of  such 
a  discovery,  ought  to  be  a  sufficient  stimulus 
to  call  forth  the  patronage  of  any  govern- 
ment. And  should  the  theory  prove  correct, 
and  the  adventure  succeed,  would  it  not  ini- 

]  40  THE  THEORY 

mortalize  our  nation?  The  fame  of  Symmes, 
and  his  native  country,  would  only  expire 
with  time!  But,  even  should  the  expedition 
fail  in  the  main  object,  there  would  still  be 
neither  loss  nor  disgrace.  If  the  interior 
world  have  no  existence  but  in  Captain 
Symmes's  imagination,  would  it  be  a  matter 
worthy  of  no  consideration  to  explore  the 
northern  parts  of  our  own  hemisphere?  In 
the  attempt,  we  might  discover  something 
of  great  importance — in  chasing  a  phantom, 
we  might  hit  on  a  reality — in  searching  for 
the  "  unknowable,"  discover  what  has  hith- 
erto been  unknown ;  some  new  islands ;  some 
undiscovered  sea ;  some  north-west  by  west 
passage,  or  inlet ;  some  new  phenomenon  of 
nature ;  some  hitherto  unknown  inhabitants 
of  the  polar  regions;  nay,  even  the  pole  it- 
self. And  would  it  be  a  matter  of  no  con- 
sequence, that  a  citizen  of  our  own  country 
should  first  stand  on  the  axis,  and  plant  the 
stars  and  stripes  of  our  own  country  beneath 
the  polar  star?  And  should  this  be  effected, 
will  not  the  glory  and  honour  our  nation 
would  acquire  thereby,  be  worth  the  expen- 
diture? No  one,  I  hope,  will  say  that  it 
would  not  be  worth  it  all,  ten  times  told. 
But  in  case  this  should  fail,  would  it  be  a 


matter  of  no  consequence,  to  explore  the 
northern  parts  of  our  own  continent,  and  fill 
up  the  blank  on  the  map  of  the  northern 
hemisphere?  This,  in  my  humble  opinion, 
is  far  from  being  impracticable.  A  steam 
vessel  might  run  from  the  mouth  of  the  Ore- 
gon river,  and  proceed  along  the  north-west 
coast  of  America  through  Behring's  Straits, 
round  to  the  Atlantic;  or,  if  impeded  by  ice, 
a  party  might  pursue  their  journey  on  foot, 
with  sledges,  on  the  ice,  and  along  the  coast 
quite  round  to  Hudson's  Bay.  The  accom- 
plishment of  this,  I  deem  no  chimera.  The 
writer  of  this,  for  one,  (and  he  has  no  doubt 
Captain  Symmes,  and  a  sufficient  number  of 
others)  would  volunteer  to  accomplish  the 
enterprise.  And  should  such  an  expedition 
be  authorized  and  fitted  out  by  the  govern- 
ment, rest  assured,  if  they  did  not  penetrate 
the  interior  of  our  sphere,  or  plant  the  Amer- 
ican standard  beneath  the  great  Northern 
Bear,  they  would  at  least  furnish  a  correct 
map  of  the  coast  of  America,  from  the  mouth 
of  Oregon  round  to  fort  Churchill ; — or  make 
the  snows  of  the  north  their  winding  sheets. 
Within  a  few  years,  several  expeditions 
have  been  fitted  out  for  the  purpose  of  dis- 
covery, by  different   nations  in  Europe,  and 


particularly  by  the  English.  Ross,  and  Parry 
have  visited  the  arctic  regions;  and  Parry 
now  is  out  on  his  third  voyage,  as  though 
there  were  some  hidden  mystery  there, 
which  the  English  government  is  anxious  to 
develope.  It  is  not  likely  that  they  would 
have  fitted  out,  and  dispatched  four  succes- 
sive expeditions,  merely  to  view  Ice-bergs 
and  Esquimaux  Indians.  As  for  the  disco- 
very of  a  north-west  passage  to  the  East 
Indies,  it  cannot  be  their  sole  object,  as  the 
continent  of  America  has  been  explored  by 
land  to  seventy-two  degrees  of  north  latitude ; 
and,  according  to  the  old  theory,  beyond  that 
latitude  the  seas  are  so  incumbered  with  ice 
as  to  render  their  navigation  extremely  diffi- 
cult, if  not  impracticable;  from  which,  I  am 
induced  to  believe,  that  they  have  discovered 
something  in  those  regions  which  indicates  a 
state  of  things  different  from  that  heretofore 
believed  to  exist. 

Under  the  protection  of  the  Russian  gov- 
ernment, Kotzebue,  and  Baron  Wrangle, 
have  been  engaged  in  similar  enterprizes, 
and  Jthough  these  different  attempts  have 
affctided  considerable  light  on  the  subject, 
yet  they  are  rather  calculated  to  awaken 
than   satisfy  curiosity.     Many  of  the  facts, 


however,  which  are  urged  as  proof  of  the 
theory  of  concentric  spheres,  have  been  con- 
firmed or  corroborated  by  the  personal 
observations  of  those  skilful  navigators.  But 
so  long  as  tliey  lack  confidence  in  the  theory, 
it  can  scarcely  be  expected  they  will  make 
the  discovery;  the  winding  meridians  which 
they  will  pursue,  when  intending  to  proceed 
straight  forward,  will  keep  them  bewildered 
among  the  ice,  along  the  circle  of  the  verge, 
or  finally  bring  them  out  towards  the  exterior 
surface  of  the  sphere,  no  wiser  than  when 
they  set  out. 

As  yet,  we  are  more  indebted  to  other 
nations,  than  our  own,  for  a  knowledge  of  the 
continent  of  America.  A  knowledge  of  the 
north-west  coast  is  interesting  to  the  civilized 
world  at  large ;  but  to  none  more  so,  than 
the  United  States;  and  1  humbly  think,  that 
the  honor  and  interest  of  this  confederated 
Republic,  are  more  deeply  involved  in  this 
subject  of  making  discoveries  in  the  northern 
seas,  than  any  other  nation's  can  be. 

Should  a  voyage  of  discovery  be  underta- 
ken by  our  government,  it  is  hoped  that  the 
northern  coast  of  the  continent  of  America 
will,  at  least,  be  examined.  The  undertaking 
would  not  only  redound  to  the  fame  of  our 


country,  and  to  that  of  the  individual  en- 
trusted with  the  enterprise,  but  must  be 
productive  of  immense  advantage  to  our 
commerce  and  national  prosperity ;  and  carry 
our  "  star  spangled  banner"  among  a  people 
with  whom  the  civilized  world,  as  yet,  have 
bad  no  intercourse. 

The  prosecution  of  such  an  enterprise 
would  be  attended  with  no  very  considerable 
demands  on  the  treasury;  the  employment  of 
one  or  two  of  our  ships  of  war,  now  in  com- 
mission, for  the  object,  would  cause  little 
additional  expense.  But,  even  admitting 
that  a  few  thousands,  or  even  hundreds  of 
thousands,  would  be  necessary;  of  what  im- 
portance is  it,  when  weighed  against  the 
magnitude  of  the  object  to  be  accomplished? 
Could  our  public  vessels  be  better  employed, 
than  in  surveying  our  north-west  coast,  and  in 
discovery?  Our  naval  officers  would  rejoice 
on  seeing  opened  to  their  view  a  new  path 
to  fame,  independent  of  the  acquisition  to 
their  nautical  experience.  Many  of  our 
brave  and  skilful  navigators  would  be  proud 
of  an  appointment  in  such  an  enterprise; 
many  naturalists  and  men  of  science,  would 
cheerfully,  at  their  own  expense,  if  necessary, 
accompany  such  an   expedition.      And   aU 


though  we  may  not  expect  such  an  enterprise 
to  be  accomplished  to  the  full  extent  of  Cap- 
tain Symmes's  anticipations,  and  those  who 
believe  in  his  doctrines;  yet,  as  Americans, 
we  cannot  but  wish  that  the  theory,  which 
has  been  first  advanced  by  a  fellow-citizen, 
should  be  countenanced  by  our  own  govern- 
ment, and  tested  by  the  citizens  of  our  own 




A  few  brief  suggestions,  relative  to  the  description,  tonnage, 
and  number  of  vessels,  necessary  to  be  equipped  for  a  voy- 
age of  discovery  to  the  interior  regions  of  the  earth;  tht 
number  of  men  necessary  to  be  employed  on  board,  arti- 
cles necessary  for  the  outfit,  and  the  probable  expense 
attending  the  same;  also,  as  to  the  route  most  proper  to  be 
pursued  to  accomplish  the  object  of  the  expedition. 

CAPTAIN  SYMMES,in  his  first  circular, 
published  at  St.  Louis,  on  the  10th  day  of 
April,  1818,  asks  an  outfit  of  one  hundred 
brave  companions,  well  equipped,  to  set  out 
from  Siberia  in  autumn,  with  rein-deer  and 
sleighs,  to  pass  over  the  ice  of  the  frozen  sea. 
On  being  furnished  with  an  outfit  of  this  de- 
scription, he  engages  to  explore  the  concave 
regions,  and  discover  a  warm,  or  at  least  a 
temperate  country,  of  fertile  soil,  well  stock- 
ed with  animals  and  vegetables,  if  not  men, 
on  reaching  about  sixty-nine  miles  beyond 
latitude  eighty-two  degrees.  The  route,  in- 
tended to  be  pursued  by  Captain  Symmes, 
appears  to  be  that  of  the  rein-deer,  and 
the  time  of  setting  out,  the  same  season  of  the 
year,  in  which  (according  to  Professor  Ad- 
ams) the  rein-deer  migrate  from  that  coast 


fiorth.  In  this  route  it  would  be  necessary 
to  cross  the  verge,  or  region  of  most  intense 
cold,  with  the  greatest  possible  expedition, 
so  as  to  reach  an  inner  temperate  climate, 
in  the  shortest  time.  The  concave  regions 
could  be  partially  explored  during  the  win- 
ter; and  the  party  return  in  the  spring,  and 
at  the  same  time  of  the  rein-deer,  to  the 
mouth  of  the  river  Lena. 

The  Russians  have  been  making  consider- 
able exertions  to  explore  the  northern  re- 
gions. Baron  Wrangle  made  an  attempt  of 
this  kind,  in  the  year  1821.  And  a  second 
attempt  was  made  in  the  year  1822,  by  trav- 
elling with  sledges,  drawn  by  dogs.*     But, 

From  a  London  paper,  under  the  head  of 
*  "  Russian  Discoveries. — In  the  year  1820,  a  journey 
of  discovery,  by  land,  was  ordered  by  the  government, 
to  explore  the  extreme  north  and  north-east  of  Asia. — 
Lieutenants  Wrangle  and  Anjou,  of  the  navy,  were  chosen . 
for  this  expedition.  After  having  made  the  necessary 
preparations,  they  departed  from  Neukolyma,  in  the 
north-eastern  part  of  Siberia,  on  the  19th  of  Feb.  1821, 
in  sledges  drawn  by  dogs,  when  the  cold  was  thirty-two 
degrees  Reaumur,  in  order  to  ascertain  the  position  of 
Schehaladshoi-Noss,  which  captain  Burney  conjectured 
might  be  an  isthmus,  joining  Asia  with  the  continent  of 
America.  The  travellers  succeeded  in  determining  the 
whole  coast  astronomically,  going  themselves  entirely 


probably  owing  to  the  party  not  having  faith 
in  the  winding  meridians  about  the  verge  of 
the  polar  opening,  or  being  unacquainted 
wiih  their  direction  according  to  the  theory 
of  concentric  spheres,  they  were  bewildered, 
and  kept  travelling  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
the  verge,  the  region  of  greatest  cold,  instead 
of  proceeding  in  a  direct  course  towards  the 
pole,  until  they  were  finally  obliged  to  return 
without  accomplishing  the  object  of  the  ex- 

round  the  coast,  and  proceeding  a  day's  journey  farther  to 
the  west;  thus  convincing  themselves  that  Asia  and 
America  are  not  united  there  by  an  isthmus.  On  the  13th 
of  March,  the  expedition  returned  to  Neukolyroa.  On 
the  22d  of  March,  Mr.  Wrangle  undertook  another  jour- 
ney, likewise  on  sledges  drawn  by  dogs,  with  ten  com- 
panions, in  the  direction  to  the  North  Pole,  in  order  to 
look  for  the  great  continent  which  is  supposed  to  exist 
there.  The  principal  obstacle  they  met  with,  was  thin 
ice,  which  being  broken  to  pieces  by  continued  storms, 
'  vvas  piled  up  in  mountains,  and  rendered  farther  progress 
impossible.  At  a  bear  hunt,  which  the  company  under- 
took, they  observed  a  sudden  bursting  of  the  ice,  accom- 
panied srith  a  dreadful  noise  resembling  thunder.  On 
their  journey  back,  which  the  travellers  were  obliged  to 
make  without  accomplishing  their  object,  they  surveyed 
the  bear  islands,  and  after  an  absence  of  thirty-eight  days, 
arrived  safely  at  Neukolyma  on  the  28th  April,  where 
they  are  to  remain  for  the  year  1822,  and  then  to  coiv 
tinue  their  researches." 


At  the  present  time  (August,  1824)  an  ex- 
pedition is  fitting  out  in  Russia  at  great 
expense,  under  tlie  auspices  of  that  distin- 
guished patj-on  of  science,  CCunt  Romanzoff, 
for  the  purpose  of  making  discoveries  in  the 
northern  regions,  with  the  intention  of  ex- 
ploring over  land,  or  on  the  ice,  as  far  as  it 
may  be  found  practicable.  The  celebrated 
Admiral  Kruzenstern,  is  to  exercise  a  gener- 
al superintendance  over  the  expedition,  while 
the  immediate  command  is  to  be  conferred 
on  some  distinguished  Russian  officer. 

The  continent  of  North  America,  would, 
in  my  opinion,  be  a  more  suitable  place,  for 
an  exploring  party  to  set  out  from,  than  the 
coast  of  Siberia.  A  company  of  men,  well 
armed,  could  travel  over  land,  and  draw  their 
provisions  and  baggage  on  hand  sledges,  on 
the  snow  or  ice,  as  Hearne  did  during  his  jour- 
ney, with  light  canoes  for  the  purpose  of  cross- 
ing rivers  and  lakes,  should  such  be  found  to 
obstruct  their  progress.  In  this  manner,  the 
party  would  soon  cross  the  verge, or  "barren 
grounds,"  as  Hearne  calls  it,  and  arrive  in 
that  country  of  abundant  game,  of  which  the 
Indians  informed  him.  Hearne,  according 
to  his  journal,  reached  nearly  the  seventy- 
second  degree  of  nor*i  latitude,  and  his  gen- 

150  THE  THEORY    \ 

eral  course  is  laid  clown  as  being  north-west- 
wardly,  from  Fort  Churchill  to  the  mouth  of 
Copper-Mine  river,  which  he  says  disem- 
bogues itself  into  the  Northern  sea,  flowing 
in  a  northerly  direction.  Me-lo-no-bee,  the 
Indian  chief,  who  served  as  Hearne's  guide 
from  Hudson's  Bay,  pointed  out  the  mouth 
of  Copper-Mine  river,  as  being  in  a  north- 
eastwardly direction  from  Fort  Churchill, 
and  flowing  in  an  eastwardly  course.  Sub- 
sequent discoveries  have,  I  believe,  deter- 
mined Me-lo-no-bee  to  be  correct  in  this  par- 
ticular, as  that  river  has  been  ascertained 
to  empty  into  the  waters  of  the  Atlantic 
north  of  Repulse  Bay,  several  hundred  miles 
distant  from  where  Hearne  lays  it  down  on 
his  map.  It  is  so  laid  down  in  the  map  ac- 
companying Koss'  voyage  of  discovery. 
How  Hearne  could  be  so  much  mistaken  in 
the  course  he  travelled,  as  to  lay  it  down 
at  nearly  a  right  angle  from  its  true  course, 
is  rather  unaccountable:  he  must  have  been 
deceived  by  the  winding  meridians  of  the 
verge,  which  turned  him  to  the  right;  when 
to  have  passed  directly  into  the  concave, 
he  ought,  on  arriving  at  a  certain  point,  to 
liave  proceeded  west  of  north,  then  west, 
and  finally  south-west,  which  would  proba- 


bly  have  conducted  him  to  that  country^, 
which  the  Indian  represented  as  being  far 
to  the  west,  or  south-west,  and  so  warm  that 
there  was  never  any  frost.  In  this  direction, 
an  exploring  party  ought  most  probably  to 
travel,  first  north  until  they  come  to  the 
verge;  where  (if  they  are  on  the  continent 
of  America)  the  meridians  begin  to  wind  to 
the  right,  then  gradually,  as  they  advanced, 
incline  to  the  west,  then  true  west,  then 
south  of  west,  and  finally,  when  entirely  be- 
yond the  apparant  verge,  to  the  south-west, 
if  not  due  south.  In  crossing  the  verge,  the 
cold  would  no  doubt  be  considerable:  but 
cold  in  those  regions,  as  measured  by  the 
thermometer,  appears  to  us  much  greater 
than  the  feelings  of  those  exposed  to  that 
temperature  indicate.  Hence  it  was,  no 
doubt,  that  Parry's  crew  could  hunt  in  win- 
ter, when  the  medium  was  below  zero.  And 
the  Russians  set  out  on  their  expedition  over 
the  ice  in  1821,  when  the  cold  was  thirty-two 
degrees  Reaumur;  and  this  too  accounts  for 
Hearne's  sleeping  in  the  snow,  without  fire, 
by  only  digging  a  hole,  and  lying  therein, 
with  his  sledge  turned  up  to  windward,  it 
does  not  appear  that  he  complained  of  ex- 
cessive cold;  though  he  travelled  nearly  all 


winter.  He  had  also  several  Indian  women 
in  company.  The  regions  through  which  he 
passed,  as  well  as  that  in  which  Ross  and 
Parry  were,  are  alleged  to  be  the  coldest  of 
the  earth ;  and  that  those  men  experienced 
as  great  a  degree  of  cold  as  would  be  in 
passing  the  verge  into  the  concave  regions. 

But  1  am  of  opinion  that  the  most  practica- 
ble, the  most  expeditious,  and  the  best  mode 
of  exploring  the  interior  regions  would  be  by 
sea,  and  by  way  of  the  south  polar  opening, 
crossing  the  verge  at  the  low  side,  in  the 
Indian  ocean,  where  it  is  presumed  the  sea 
is  ahvays  open,  and  nearly  free  from  ice. 
But,  as  we  are  residents  of  the  northern  hem- 
isphere, the  nearness  of  the  north  polar 
opening  to  us,  and  the  more  immediate  ad- 
vantages which  would  result  to  us  from  an 
intercourse  with  the  countries  within  the  con- 
cave to  the  north,  would  seem  to  point  out 
that  as  the  most  proper  direction  to  be  pur- 
sued ;  though  the  difficulties  to  be  encountered 
in  passing  the  verge  of  the  nprth  polar  open- 
ing, would  doubtless  be  much  greater  than 
those  of  the  south,  the  cold  much  severer, 
and  the  ice  more  compact  and  difficult  to  pass. 
However,  notwithstanding  all  these  diffi- 
culties, the  object,  I  think,  might  be  safely 


accomplished  by  sailing,  either  east  of  Spitz* 
bergen,  or  between  Spitzbergen  and  Green* 
land;  where,  writers,  in  whom  confidence 
may  be  placed,  inform  us,  that  the  sea  is 
open  all  winter.  The  greatest  difficulty  to 
be  apprehended,  would  be  the  accumtilatipn 
of  drifting  ice  in  the  summer  season;  but  in 
the  winter,  that  difficulty,  perhaps,  would  not 
be  presented  as  in  the  fall  or  commencement 
of  winter,  the  ice  would  attach  itself  to  one 
shore  or  the  other,  and  become  permanent. 

The  Russians  who  wintered  on  Spitzber- 
gen, say  that  the  sea  was  open  during  the 
whole  winter,  quite  across  the  north  end  of 
the  island.  Several  sailors  who  were  once 
left  on  an  island  near  Spit/bergen,  lived  there 
several  years;  though  destitute  of  almost 
every  necessary  of  life,  they  were  not  only 
able  to  support  the  cold  of  the  winters,  but 
even  to  supply  themselves  with  provisions, 
and  light,  in  those  dreary  regions.  They 
finally  returned  in  health  and  safety  to  their 
native  country  and  friends.  This  island  is 
probably  as  cold  as  any  spot  that  is  known 
to  our  sphere. 

A  vessel,  almost  at  any  time  in  summer, 
could  sail  to,  and  remain  at  Spitzbergen, 
(having  the  necessary  conveniences  on  board 


to  make  the  crew  comfortable)  for  two  or 
three  years.  They  could  lie  all  winter  at 
the  north  part  of  the  island,  and  after  being 
there  long  enough  to  become  acquainted  with 
the  nature  and  changes  in  the  sea  to  the 
north  of  them,  they  could  take  some  favora- 
ble opportunity,  and  reach  the  pole,  (if  the 
earth  be  a  globe)  or  the  interior  concave 
regions.  The  distance  from  the  north  of 
Spitzbergen  to  the  pole  is  only  six  hundred 
geographical  miles. 

Another  favorable  direction  for  making 
the  discovery  is,  by  Bhering's  straits  on  the 
north-west  coast  of  America:  And  an  addi- 
tional advantage  which  is  presented  by  this 
direction,  is,  that  if  the  vessels  should  be 
obstructed  by,  or  frozen  in  the  ice,  the  party 
could  proceed  by  land  on  the  shore  of  Ameri- 
ca, (which  is  supposed  to  communicate  with 
the  concave  regions,)  a  party  remaining  with 
the  vessels  till  the  others  returned. 

In  case  an  expedition  of  discovery  should 
be  fitted  out  for  the  purpose  of  making  the 
attempt,  by  either  route,  the  safety  of  the 
party  would  require  that  two  vessels  should 
be  equipped  with  rather  more  than  an  ordi- 
nary number  of  men,  and  with  a  double  num- 
ber of  boats  at  least;  some  so  light  and  por- 


table  as  to  be  easily  carried  by  men  over  ice, 
or  necks  of  land,  should  it  become  necessary. 
Vessels  propelled  by  steam  would  be  pre- 
ferable to  any  other,  as  they  could  more 
easily  avoid  the  floating  ice  in  passing  the 
verge;  as,  also  ascend  rapid  rivers  in  the 
interiorj  should  such  be  discovered,  and  it  be 
found  necessary  to  ascend  them.  The  ves- 
sels should  be  equipped  with  masts,  sails,  and 
every  part  of  rigging  necessary  for  sailing ; 
with  a  ballast  of  coal,  which  should  not  be 
used,  or  any  other  fuel  for  steam  purposes, 
until  they  come  within  the  neighbourhood  of 
the  ice,  through  which,  by  pursuing  a  proper 
course,  it  is  believed,  they  would  in  a  few 
days  pass,  and  arrive  at  a  more  temperate 
climate,  and  a  country  where  they  would  be 
abundantly  supplied  with  both  wood  and  pro- 
visions. Perhaps  it  would  be  advisable  to 
take  on  board  a  small  boat,  with  a  propor- 
tionate steam-engine,  for  the  purpose  of  run- 
ning up  shallow  rivers,  or  along  coasts,  to 
make  more  minute  observations. 

But  the  most  important  matter  of  all  to  be 
observed,  and  that  on  which  the  success  of 
the  expedition  must  depend,  would  be  a  pro- 
per observance  of  the  principles  of  the  theory, 
and  a  due  attention  to  the  winding  meridians, 


and  curvatures  of  the  parallels  of  latitude, 
when  the  verge  shall  be  crossed;  and  which 
will  require  the  party  to  he  continually  va- 
rying their  course  as  they  proceed  forward 
in  accordance  with  the  place  at  which  the 
attempt  ^hall  be  made. 

The  expense  of  an  expedition  of  this  kind, 
would  not  be  very  great;  at  least  not  consi- 
derable when  compared  with  the  magnitude 
of  the  object  to  be  accomplished,  though  I 
liave  not  made,  nor  do  I  consider  myself  ade- 
quate to  make  minute  estimates  on  the  sub- 
ject. But  1  should  conclude  that  a  sum  of 
one  or  two  hundred  thousand  dollars  would 
be  amply  sufficient  to  defray  all  expenses 
attending  such  an  expedition.  Should  an 
attempt  be  made  by  way  of  the  south  polar 
opening,  with  vessels  fitted  out  as  for  a  wha- 
ling voyage,  the  expense  would  probably  not 
be  the  one  fifth  part  of  that  sum.  And  were 
an  expedition  undertaken  over  land,  from 
some  post  high  north  on  the  continent  of 
America,  the  expense  must  be  still  less, 



A  short  Biographical  sketch  of  Captain  Symmes;  with  some 
observations  on  the  treatment  which  he  has  met  with  in 
the  advancement  of  his  Theory. 

JOHN  CLEVES  SYMMES,  the  author  of 
the  Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres,  is  the  son 
of  Timothy  Symmes,  of  the  state  of  New- 
Jersey,  whose  father's  name  was  also  Timo- 
thy, and  who  was  the  son  of  the  Rev.  Thomas 
Symmes,  of  Bradford,  who  graduated  at  Har- 
vard college,  in  1698.  Mr.  Elliot,  publisher 
of  the  New-England  Biographical  Dictiona- 
ry, at  Boston,  in  the  year  1809,  makes  hon- 
ourable mention  of  his  name.  Timothy 
Symmes,  the  grandfather  of  the  subject  of 
this  sketch,  had  but  two  sons;  the  one,  John 
Cleves  Symmes,  well  known  as  the  father 
and  founder  of  the  first  settlements  in  the 
Miami  country;  and  the  other,  Timothy,  the 
father  of  our  Theorist,  and  from  whom  the 
present  family  of  Symmes,  in  the  Miami 
country,  are  descended. 

Captain  Symmes  is  now  about  forty-six 

years  of  age.     He  is  of  middle  stature,  and 

tolerably   proportioned;   with  scarcely   any 

thing  in  his  exterior  to  cbaraeterize  the  se- 



cret  operations  of  his  mind,  except  an  ab- 
straction, which,  from  attentive  inspection, 
is  found  seated  on  a  slightly  contracted  brow ; 
and  the  glances  of  a  bright  blue  eye,  that 
often  seems  fixed  on  something  beyond  im- 
mediate surrounding  objects.  His  head  is 
round,  and  his  face  rather  small  and  oval. 
His  voice  is  somewhat  nasal,  and  he  speaks 
hesitatingly  and  with  apparent  labour.  His 
manners  are  plain,  and  remarkable  for  native 
simplicity.  He  is  a  native  of  the  state  of 
New-Jersey.  During  the  early  part  of  his 
life,  he  received,  what  was  then  considered, 
a  common  English  education,  which  in  after 
life  he  improved  by  having  access  to  toler- 
ably well  selectedlibraries;  and  being  endued, 
by  nature,  with  an  insatiable  desire  for  knowl- 
edge of  all  kinds,  he  thus  had,  during  the 
greater  part  of  his  life,  ample  opportunities 
to  indulge  it. 

In  the  year  J 802,  and  at  the  age  of  about 
twenty-two  years,  Mr.  Symmes  entered  the 
army  of  the  United  States,  in  the  office  of 
ensign ;  from  which  he  afterwards  rose  to  that 
of  captain.  He  continued  in  service  until  after 
the  close  of  the  late  war  with  Great-Britain. 
While  attached  to  the  army  he  was  universal- 
ly esteemed  a  brave  soldier,  and  a  zealous 


and  faithful  officer.  He  was  in  the  memora- 
ble battle  of  Bridgewater;  and  was  senior 
Captain  in  the  regiment  to  which  he  belonged. 
The  company  under  his  immediate  command, 
that  day,  discharged  seventy  rounds  of  cat- 
ridges,  and  repelled  three  desperate  charges 
of  the  bayonet. 

Afterwards,  in  the  sortie  from  Fort  Erie, 
Captain  Symmes,  with  his  command, captured 
the  enemy's  battery  number  two;  and  with 
his  own  hand  spiked  the  cannon  it  contained: 
yet,  owing  to  the  want  of  correct  information, 
or  from  some  other  cause,  the  honour  and 
the  reward  of  this  achievement,  were 
alike  bestowed  upon  others.  And,  it  is  a 
fact  not  less  to  be  regretted,  that  the  official 
report  of  the  battle  of  Sridgewater,  has  rep- 
resented the  regiment,  to  which  Captain 
Symmes  was  attached,  as  almost  the  only 
one  that  retreated  at  Lunday's  lane;  when, 
in  truth,  it  was  nearly  the  only  one  which 
uniformly  maintained  the  positions  it  was  or- 
dered to  maintain,  throughout  the  action. 
Captain  Symmes,  has  since,  however,  sub- 
stantiated the  correctness  of  its  conduct,  by 
obtaining  the  necessary  acknowledgments; 
some  of  the  particulars  of  which  were  com- 
municated to  the  Historical  Society  of  New- 


York,  and  published,  in  the  newspapers  of 
the  day.  The  truth  of  this  statement,  has 
also  been  confirmed  to  me,  by  a  respectable 
Officer,  who  was  in  the  action,  and  witnessed 
the  occurrence. 

During  the  period  of  about  three  years, 
immediately  after  the  close  of  the  war,  and 
after  Captain  Symmes  had  left  the*  army,  he 
was  engaged  in  the  difficult  and  laborious 
task  of  furnishing  supplies  to  the  troops  sta- 
tioned on  the  upper  Mississippi.  How  he  suc- 
ceeded in  this  business  1  am  not  informed  ;  but, 
I  conclude  from  his  present  circumstances,  that 
he  could  not  have  realized  any  very  consid- 
erable pecuniary  advantage  from  the  enter- 
prise. Since  that  time  he  has  resided  at 
Newport,  Kentucky ;  devoting,  almost  exclu- 
sively, the  whole  of  his  time  and  attention  to 
the  investigation  and  perfection  of  his  fa- 
vourite Theory  of  Concentric  Spheres. 

In  a  short  circular,  dated  at  St.  Louis,  in 
1B18,  Captain  Symmes  first  promulgated  the 
fundamental  principles  of  his  theory  to  the 
world.  He  addressed  a  copy  to  every  learn- 
ed institution,  and  to  every  considerable  town 
and  vMlage,  as  well  as  distinguished  individ- 
uals, of  which  he  could  gain  any  intelligence, 
throughout  the  United  States,  and  to  several 
learned  societies  in  Europe. 


The  reception  this  circular  met  with,  was 
that  of  ridicule;  it  being  looked  upon  as  the 
production  of  a  distempered  imagination,  or 
the  ravings  of  partial  insanity.  Indeed,  it  be- 
came a  fruitful  source  of  jest  and  levity,  to 
publishers  of  the  public  prints  of  the  day 
generally,  all  over  the  Union.  The  Academy 
of  Sciences  in  Paris,  before  which  it  was  laid 
by  Count  Volney,  decided  that  it  was  un- 
worthy of  their  consideration;  and  the  edi- 
tor of  the  London  Morning  Chronicle,  could 
not  be  induced  to  credit  the  statements  of 
respectable  men,  who  declared  that  Symmes 
was  not  a  madman.  But  in  this,  his  fate  is 
not  peculiar.  The  experience  of  the  world 
has  taught  us,,  that  the  authors  of  new  doc- 
trines, have  mostly  shared  a  similar  lot. 
An  excellent  cotemporary  writer  has  remark- 
ed, that,  "the  fate  of  many  projectors  have 
been  so  melancholy,  that  it  requires,  at  this 
day,  the  daring  spirit,  and  the  enthusiasm 
which  are  naturally  allied  to  genius,  in  any 
man  to  announce  himself  as  the  inventor  of 
any  thing  new  and  extraordinary.  The  pa- 
tience and  perseverance  of  a  Gallileo,  and 
the  adventurous  spirit  of  a  Fulton,  are  neces- 
sary to  him  who  would  benefit  his  species 
by  the  results  of  original  plans  and  forms, 


or  that  of  new  combinations  of  old  and  tried 
ones.  Hence  we  cannot  b'ut  respect  and  ad- 
mire the  man,  who,  regardless  of  the  hard 
fate  of  so  many  who  have  trod  before  him, 
in  the  thorny  path  of  improvement,  still  has 
the  fortitude  and  philosophy  of  mind  to  spend 
years  in  toil  and  study — to  labour  by  day 
with  persevering  industry — and  trim  the 
midnight  lamp  with  the  vigilance  ascribed 
to  the  ancient  vestals,  in  bringing  to  perfec- 
tion an  idea,  from  which  he  hopes  to  reap 
fame  and  benefit  to  himself,  and  to  reflect 
credit,  at  the  same  time,  on  the  genius  of  his 

Captain  Symmes  published  two  other  num- 
bers at  St.  Louis,  in  the  year  .1818;  the  one 
went  to  prove,  by  geometrical  principles, 
that  matter  must  necessarily  form  itself  into 
concentric  spheres,  and  the  other  treated  of 
geological  principles.  His  two  next  num- 
bers, marked  four  and  five,  (the  one  treating 
of  the  original  formation  of  the  Allegheny 
mountains,  and  the  other  claiming  the  dis- 
covery of  open  poles,)  I  have  never  had  an 
opportunity  of  seeing.  His  sixth  number  ap- 
peared, dated  at  Cincinnati,  in  January,  1819, 
which  contains  a  number  of  items  aad  prin- 
ciples that  he  proposes  treating  of  in  sub- 


sequent  numbers.  His  seventh  number,  en- 
titled ''Arctic  Memoir^''  is  dated  at  Cincin- 
nati, in  February,  1819;  and  another  number, 
entitled  "  Light  between  the  Spheres,''''  dated 
at  Cincinnati,  in  August,  1819,  was  published 
in  the  National  Intelligencer.  From  ihat 
time  to  the  present,  numerous  pieces  from  the 
pen  of  Captain  Symmes  have  appeared  in 
different  newspapers;  but  the  most  promi- 
nent and  grand  doctrines,  on  which  his  theo- 
ry is  based,  are  contained  in  the  papers 
above  enumerated.  Independent  of  his  writ- 
ten publications,  he  has  delivered  a  number 
of  lectures  on  the  theory, — first  at  Cincinnati, 
in  1820,  and  afterwards  at  Lexington  and 
Frankfort,  in  Kentucky,  and  at  Hamilton  and 
Zanesville,  in  the  state  of  Ohio.  Several  of 
these  lectures  I  had  the  pleasure  of  hearing; 
and  the  respectable  number  of  auditors,^  and 
the  profound  stillness  that  reigned,  evinced 
in  the  strongest  manner  the  interest  felt 
by  all  present  in  the  subject.  In  addi- 
tion to  the  various  facts  and  phenomena,  to 
which  he  adverts  in  support  of  his  positions, 
he  delineates  in  his  lectures,  upon  a  wooden 
sphere,  constructed  on  the  principles  of  his 
theory,  the  cause  of  the  winding  meridians, 
the  icy  hoop  or  verge,  and  the  course  which 


ought  to  be  pursued  to  reach  the  interior  re- 
gions, with  the  confidence  of  mathematical 

Captain  Symmes's  want  of  a  classical  edu- 
cation, and  philosophic  attainments,  perhaps, 
unfits  him  for  the  office  of  a  lecturer.  But, 
his  arguments  being  presented  in  confused 
array,  and  clothed  in  homely  phraseology, 
can  furnish  no  objection  to  the  soundness  of 
his  doctrines.  The  imperfection  of  his  style, 
and  the  inelegance  of  his  manner,  may  be 
deplored;  but,  certainly,  constitute  no  proof 
of  the  inadequacy  of  his  reasoning,  or  the  ab- 
surdity of  his  deductions.  There  is  scarcely 
a  single  individual,  with  whom  I  have  con- 
versed, who  does  not  confess  that,  if  the  facts 
which  he  adduces,  and  the  arguments  he  uses, 
were  handled  by  an  able  orator,  they  would 
produce  a  powerful  effect.  In  short,  those 
who  attend  to  his  lectures,  without  regarding 
his  peculiarities  of  style  and  manner;  who 
reflect  alone  on  their  substantial  parts,  with- 
out regarding  the  want  of  eloquence  in  the 
lecturer;  who  presume  to  think  for  them- 
selves, and  are  able  to  comprehend  the  naked 
facts,  and  unadorned  arguments,  which  he 
advances,  will  not  fail  to  discover  in  them 
many  particulars  well  worthy  of  their  con- 


sideration;  and  many  arguments  calculated 
to  stagger  their  faith  in  pre-conceived  opin- 

In  the  year  1822,  Captain  Symmes  peti- 
tioned the  Congress  of  the  United  States, 
setting  forth,  in  the  first  place,  his  belief  of 
the  existence  of  a  habitable  and  accessible 
concave  to  this  globe ;  his  desire  to  embark 
on  a  voyage  of  discovery  to  one  or  other  of 
the  polar  regions;  his  belief  in  the  great 
profit  and  honour  his  country  would  derive 
from  such  discovery; — and  prayed  that  Con- 
gress would  equip  and  fit  out  for  the  expedi- 
tion, two  vessels  of  two  hundred  and  fifty,  or 
three  hundred,  tons  burthen;  and  grant  such 
other  aid  as  government  might  deem  neces- 
sary to  promote  the  object.  This  petition 
was  presented  in  the  Senate  by  Col.  Richard 
M.  Johnston,  a  member  from  Kentucky,  on 
the  7th  day  of  March,  1822;  when,  (a  motion 
to  refer  it  to  the  committee  of  Foreign  Rela- 
tions having  failed,)  after  a  few  remarks  it 
was  laid  on  the  table. — Jlyes^  25. 

In  December,  1823,  he  forwarded  similar 
petitions  to  both  houses  of  Congress,  which 
met  with  a  similar  fate. 

In  January,  1824,  he  petitioned  the  Gene- 
ral Assembly  of  the  stale  of  Ohio,  praying 


that  body  to  pass  a  resolution  approbatory 
of  his  theory;  and  to  recommend  him  to  Con- 
gress for  an  outfit  suitable  to  the  enterprise. 
This  memorial  was  presented  by  Micajah  T. 
Williams ;  and,  on  motion,  the  further  conside- 
ration thereof  was  indefinitely  postponed  * 

That  Captain  Symmes  is  a  highminded, 
honorable  man,  is  attested  by  all  wiio  know 
him.  He  has  devised  a  theory  whereby  to 
account  for  various  singular  and  interesting 
phenomena;  and  more  satisfactorily  to  ex- 
plain a  great  variety  of  acknowledged  facts. 

He  argues  from  the  effect  to  the  cause,  in 
many  of  his  positions,  with  great  perspicuity. 
And  the  circumstance  that  few  of  the  learned 
have  yet  attempted  to  show  that  his  princi- 
ples are  founded  in  absurdity^  should  at  least 
entitle  him  to  the  respect,  and  his  theory  to 
the  attention,  of  every  candid  man.  Notwith- 
standing he  has  been  buffetted  by  the  ridicule 
and  sarcasm  of  an  opposing  world  for  seven 
years, undergreatpecuniary  embarrassments ; 
he  still  labours  with  unshaken  faith,  and  un- 
broken perseverance;  with  a  willingness  at 
any  time  to  test  the  truth  of  his  speculations 
amid  the  icy  mountains  of  the  polar  seas. 

*  Journal  of  the  House  of  Representatives  of  Ohio; 
session  of  1823,  "24— p.  224. 


Already  has  he  passed  the  meridian  of 
life  J  and  should  he  be  called  from  lime,  with- 
out establishing  his  theory  by  actual  dis- 
covery; the  science  he  has  embodied,  and 
the  facts  he  has  collected  and  arranged  in 
support  of  it,  together  with  his  undeviating 
and  indefatigable  industry,  in  the  face  of 
«  The  world's  dread  laugh,  which  scarce 
The  firm  philosopher  can  scorn," 
will  bear  a  testimonial  to  his  talents  and 
worth,  that  the  best  of  his  species  will  ever 
delight  to  acknowledge.  And  though  he  may 
not  have  accounted*  for  every  particular,  or 
brought  forward  every  argument  that  might 
possibly  be  advanced  in  support  of  his  posi- 
tions; he  has,  nevertheless,  collected  a 
greater  number  of  peculiarly  interesting  facts, 
and  embodied  a  stronger  phalanx  of  proof, 
than  could  well  have  been  expected  on  a 
subject  so  new,  and  in  the  hands  of  the  ori- 
ginal discoverer. 

If,  hereafter,  it  should  be  ascertained  that 
Symraes's  Theory  of  the  Earth  is  true,  im- 
partial posterity  will  not  withhold  the  honour 
and  fame  due  to  the  name  of  the  discoverer. 
It  is  hoped,  however,  that  the  present  age 
will  not  so  far  forfeit  to  posterity  the  high  char- 
acter it  now  sustains  in  scientific  discovery. 


as  to  remain  deaf  to  his  solicitations;  but, 
that  the  citizens  of  our  own  country  in  par- 
ticular, if  not  the  whole  world,  will  unite  in 
testing  the  truth  of  his  principles;  and  in 
doing  justice  to  the  merits  of  this  extraordi- 
nary man.